The virulence towards mice of Staphylococcus aureus strains from bovine mastitis was enhanced upon growth in milk whey compared to homologous organisms grown in tryptic soy broth (TSB). In the mouse mastitis model, S. aureus grown in milk whey caused more severe lesions than homologous strains grown in TSB. Staphylococcus aureus strain F1440 grown in milk whey induced 75% mortality and local necrotic reaction in subcutaneously inoculated mice, whereas the homologous strain grown in TSB caused only 5% mortality and slight skin reaction. Extracellular capsule on milk whey-grown, S. aureus could not be demonstrated. However, diffuse type colony morphology could be correlated with an increased virulence of S. aureus towards mice.