The bactericidal activities of vancomycin against two reference strains and two clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis were studied with five different concentrations ranging from 2x to 64x the MIC. The decrease in the numbers of CFU at 24 h was at least 3 log10 CFU/ml for all strains. No concentration-dependent killing was observed. The postantibiotic effect (PAE) was determined by obtaining viable counts for two of the reference strains, and the viable counts varied markedly: 1.2 h for S. aureus and 6.0 h for S. epidermidis. The determinations of the PAE, the postantibiotic sub-MIC effect (PA SME), and the sub-MIC effect (SME) for all strains were done with BioScreen C, a computerized incubator for bacteria. The PA SMEs were longer than the SMEs for all strains tested. A newly developed in vitro kinetic model was used to expose the bacteria to continuously decreasing concentrations of vancomycin. A filter prevented the loss of bacteria during the experiments. One reference strain each of S. aureus and S. epidermidis and two clinical isolates of S. aureus were exposed to an initial concentration of 10x the MIC of vancomycin with two different half-lives (t1/2s): 1 or 5 h. The post-MIC effect (PME) was calculated as the difference in time for the bacteria to grow 1 log10 CFU/ml from the numbers of CFU obtained at the time when the MIC was reached and the corresponding time for an unexposed control culture. The difference in PME between the strains was not as pronounced as that for the PAE. Furthermore, the PME was shorter when a t1/2 of 5 h (approximate terminal t1/2 in humans) was used. The PMEs at t1/2s of 1 and 5 h were 6.5 and 3.6 h, respectively, for S. aureus. The corresponding figures for S. epidermidis were 10.3 and less than 6 h. The shorter PMEs achieved with a t1/2 of 5 h and the lack of concentration-dependent killing indicate that the time above the MIC is the parameter most important for the efficacy of vancomycin.