Screening methods to identify methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were compared using 96 isolates representing 17 distinct clones. The sensitivity of four commercial agglutination tests was determined in comparison to the tube coagulation test, and the results related to the presence of the coagulase gene. The broth screening test, agar dilution test and disc diffusion test were carried out, and the results related to the presence of the mecA gene. Mannitol salt agar and Iso-Sensitest agar with varying salt supplements were used. All agglutination tests had high rates of detection of Staphylococcus aureus (95.8-99.0%). Resistance in mecA gene-positive Staphylococcus aureus isolates was correctly detected by the oxacillin broth test, the agar dilution test and the disc diffusion test on mannitol salt agar, whereas on Iso-Sensitest agar detection rates were lower (between 68.5% and 94.4%, depending on the salt supplement). Incubation of the Iso-Sensitest plates for 48 hours significantly improved the rate of detection of resistance, but increased the major error rate up to 71.4%. MecA gene-positive Staphylococcus aureus isolates not detected by the disc diffusion test on Iso-Sensitest agar had significantly lower oxacillin minimal inhibitory concentration values and were significantly less resistant to a variety of antibiotics. Thus, mannitol salt agar might be a suitable medium for use in the disc diffusion and agar dilution test to detect resistance to oxacillin in Staphylococcus aureus.