Many strains of community-acquired meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have a pore-forming leukotoxin, known as Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), which can cause severe necrotising pneumonia. Linezolid (LZD) is a new antibacterial agent with potent antibacterial activity against MRSA. In this study, a mouse model of haematogenous pulmonary infection was used to compare the efficacies of LZD and vancomycin (VAN) against pulmonary infection caused by PVL-positive S. aureus. Following antibiotic administration for 3 days, the number of viable bacteria (mean+/-standard error of the mean) in the control, VAN and LZD groups was 6.77+/-0.14, 5.29+/-0.27 and 4.25+/-0.33 log colony-forming units/lung, respectively. LZD significantly decreased the number of viable bacteria in the lungs compared with the control and VAN groups (P<0.05). The survival rate at Day 7 post-inoculation was higher in the LZD group (100%) than in the VAN group (50%) or the control group (0%). Histopathological examination and cytokine analysis also showed the beneficial efficacy of LZD compared with VAN. In conclusion, LZD significantly reduced bacterial numbers and inflammation in a mouse model of PVL-positive S. aureus haematogenous infection and improved the survival rate of infected mice compared with VAN. LZD is clinically effective against PVL-positive S. aureus.