Staphylococcus aureus has become a frequent coloniser of the intestinal tract of infants, but the health effects of such colonisation are not clear. In this study, the antibiotic resistance patterns of 116 S. aureus strains from the commensal intestinal microflora were determined. The strains were obtained from 81 Swedish infants who had been followed with regular stool samples and registration of antibiotic usage during their first year of life. The faecal population levels of the individual strains and the duration of their persistence in the microflora had been determined previously. The prevalence of antibiotic resistance among the 116 strains was modest: methicillin, 0%; penicillin G, 78%; erythromycin A, 3%; tetracycline, 2%; clindamycin, 0.9%; and fusidic acid, 0.9%. Colonisation by antibiotic-resistant strains was unrelated to antibiotic consumption by individual infants. Antibiotic-resistant strains were as capable of persisting in the intestinal microflora and reaching high faecal population levels as fully susceptible strains. No strain lost or acquired resistance during the colonisation period. Thus, antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus seem to be as fit for competition in the large bowel microflora as susceptible strains, even in the absence of selective pressure from antibiotics. This may aggravate the ecological consequences of antibiotic resistance development.