Strains of coagulase-negative staphylococci were tested for in vivo resistance in a rabbit model of prophylaxis of endocarditis. Regimens of nafcillin, cefazolin, cefamandole, and vancomycin were compared for efficacy in the prevention of infection caused by two methicillin-resistant strains and a susceptible strain. For the two resistant strains, vancomycin was the most effective drug tested. All regimens were effective against the susceptible strain. The two strains for which prophylaxis with beta-lactam antibiotics failed produced a beta-lactam antibiotic-inducible penicillin-binding protein (PBP) that comigrated in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels with the low-affinity PBP 2a that is associated with methicillin resistance in strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Like PBP 2a, this PBP had low binding affinity for beta-lactam antibiotics. Peptide maps after either V8 protease or chymotrypsin digestion of radiolabeled PBP 2a or silver-stained preparations were virtually identical to one another and to maps of PBP 2a from a heterogeneous and a homogeneous strain of S. aureus. Methicillin resistance in coagulase-negative staphylococci and therapeutic failure with beta-lactam antibiotics in vivo is associated with production of PBP 2a, which appears to be highly conserved structurally among different species of staphylococci.