Plasmid pRN3208, thermosensitive for replication, and carrying the erythromycin transposon Tn551, was used for insertional inactivation of methicillin resistance in a highly and homogeneously resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus. Two kinds of insertionally inactivated cells were obtained. Cultures of the major class contained highly methicillin resistant cells with a frequency of about 10(-3) to 10(-4), produced DNA with methicillin resistance transforming activity, and also produced penicillin binding protein 2a, the 78 kd low affinity penicillin binding protein characteristic of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, in apparently normal quantities. The single member of class B had no detectable methicillin resistant cells (less than 10(-8)) with an MIC greater than 1 micrograms/ml, contained no DNA with methicillin resistant transforming activity and no penicillin binding protein 2a. The data suggest that in the class A cells insertional inactivation did not affect the structural gene(s) of methicillin resistance but a regulatory locus or loci needed for the homogeneous expression of resistance.