Staphylococcus aureus is a relatively uncommon cause of community-onset pneumonia (COP) that may complicate influenza infection. We reviewed admissions to children's hospitals to describe more systematically this entity. Records of patients hospitalized at three children's hospitals between 1 October 2006 and 30 April 2007 who had a positive S. aureus culture from a sterile site or respiratory specimen were reviewed and data were abstracted for episodes of primary S. aureus COP. Overall, 30 episodes met criteria for primary S. aureus COP; 12 (41%) involved methicillin-resistant S. aureus. Patients in 11 (37%) episodes were seen by a healthcare provider for their symptoms prior to hospital admission; three received an antimicrobial, none of which had activity against the S. aureus isolated. Mechanical ventilation was required in 21 (70%) episodes; five (17%) patients died. When evaluating patients with severe COP, providers should be aware of the potential for S. aureus, including methicillin-resistant strains.