Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated at a single Melbourne Hospital between 1969 and 1981 were examined for susceptibility to a range of antimicrobial agents and for the presence of plasmid DNA. Isolates obtained during 1969 possessed a plasmid of mol. wt 20 x 106, encoding heavy metal resistance and penicillinase production, and a plasmid of mol. wt 2.8 x 106, mediating tetracycline resistance. In the majority of isolates obtained after 1973, these functions were chromosomally encoded. Before 1980, both high- and low-level chromosomally-encoded gentamicin resistances were encountered, whereas isolates from 1980 and 1981 displayed low-level gentamicin resistance only; the latter phenotype was most commonly mediated by a plasmid of mol. wt 18 x 106 that also encoded resistance to tobramycin and kanamycin. Chloramphenicol resistance in strains isolated throughout the period was mediated by one of three plasmids, each of mol. wt c. 3 x 106.