Abstract A methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) typical of those being isolated in Australian hospitals has been studied. It contains two plasmids, one of 1.4 megadalton (MDa) and one of 18 MDa. When selection is made for resistance to nucleic acid-binding (NAB) compounds in mixed-culture transfer, two types of transcipients are obtained; those containing an 18-MDa plasmid and resistant to NAB compounds, trimethoprim and aminoglycosides such as gentamicin and kanamycin and those having a 22 MDa plasmid and the additional phenotype of penicillinase production. The penicillinase determinants on the 22-MDa plasmid have been found to transpose to the chromosome and from the chromosome to an 18-MDa plasmid similar to that found in the original isolate. Restriction enzyme analysis has shown that a 7.3-kilobase pair (kb) element is involved. This has been designated Tn 3852.