Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) isolates are widespread in many countries, with varying distribution and epidemiology. The aim of this study was to collect and characterise the CA-MRSA isolates circulating in Italy, since only some case reports have been published. Eighteen Panton-Valentine-positive CA-MRSA isolates were collected from different Italian hospitals during the period 2005-2009 from severe infections (skin and soft tissue infections, n = 10; necrotising pneumonia, n = 7; and sepsis, n = 1). Accessory gene regulator (agr) typing, staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC) mec typing, spa typing, multi-locus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and DNA microarray were applied to categorise isolates into clones and to compare the relevant genetic features of each clone. Six different clones were identified, the most common (7 out of 18 isolates, 38.8%) being agrI/ST8/SCCmecIV, corresponding to the USA300 clone. Six out of the seven USA300 isolates did not harbour the arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME). Four strains (22.2%) were agrIII/ST80/SCCmecIV, corresponding to the European clone. Two of the other clones, namely, agrIII/ST88/SCCmecV and agrIII/ST772/SCCmecV, corresponded to CA-MRSA clones rarely found in other countries and probably originating from Africa or the Indian subcontinent. The results of microarray hybridisations showed that the distribution of resistance genes and other virulence factors was specific to each clone. Some characteristics could be exploited as specific markers for a clone or a group of isolates, e.g. the mer operon, recovered only in ACME-negative USA300 strains. DNA microarray contributed to a more complete description of the variety of different CA-MRSA clones circulating in Italy.