The high prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ST398 among pigs in certain European countries and North America and its occurrence in other animal species raises a question concerning the molecular mechanisms mediating the success of this lineage. In this study a panel of S. aureus strains belonging to sequence type (ST) 5 (n = 4), ST8 (n = 5), ST15 (n = 5), ST22 (n = 8), clonal complex (CC) 30 (n = 8), CC97 (n = 8), CC130 (n = 4), CC151 (n = 4) and ST398 (n = 18) were screened by DNA microarray and PCR for the carriage of virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes. Isolates belonging to the same sequence type/clonal complex (ST/CC) were found to share similar virulence gene profiles. The ST398 lineage displayed the lowest content of virulence genes, which consisted mainly of genes detected among the majority or all of the analysed lineages. All MRSA ST398 isolates lacked accessory virulence genes that were detected in other ST/CC. In contrast to virulence genotype, the antimicrobial resistance genes profiles varied between isolates belonging to the same ST/CC and profile similarities could be observed for isolates from different lineages. MRSA ST398 isolates in particular displayed significant diversity and high content of antimicrobial resistance genes. This was comparable with certain MRSA belonging to other sequence types particularly the equine MRSA ST8. The apparent lack of significant virulence genes among MRSA ST398 strains, demonstrates that the lineage features a unique genetic background but no ST398-specific virulence markers could be identified.