The molecular adaptation of Staphylococcus aureus to its host during chronic infection is not well understood. Comparative genome sequencing of 3 S. aureus isolates obtained sequentially over 26 months from the airways of a cystic fibrosis patient, revealed variation in phage content, and genetic polymorphisms in genes which influence antibiotic resistance, and global regulation of virulence. The majority of polymorphisms were isolate-specific suggesting the existence of an heterogeneous infecting population that evolved from a single infecting strain of S. aureus. The genetic variation identified correlated with differences in growth rate, hemolytic activity, and antibiotic sensitivity, implying a profound effect on the ecology of S. aureus. In particular, a high frequency of mutations in loci associated with the alternate transcription factor SigB, were observed. The identification of genes under diversifying selection during long-term infection may inform the design of novel therapeutics for the control of refractory chronic infections.