This study describes vancomycin prescribing patterns in an average complexity hospital and compare the guidelines proposed by the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). The study was conducted in a 256-bed secondary-care hospital. Data were collected of all patients given vancomycin from March 2003 to February 2004, using a standardized chart-extraction form designed. Appropriate and inappropriate use was reviewed according to the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) guidelines on prudent vancomycin use. Out of 118 prescriptions, 95 (80.5%) were considered appropriate. Out of these 95 orders, 77 (81.1%) were administered for empiric treatment of suspected Gram-positive infections, 17 (17.9%) were administered for treatment of proven Gram-positive infections (76.5% identified as Staphyloccocus aureus-like agents) and 1 (1.0%) for beta-lactam allergy. The majority of the patients (96.6%) had recently used an antimicrobial medication (3 months). The mean pre-treatment hospitalization period was 11+/-10 days. Out of the 118 treatments, 67 (56.8%) were for nosocomial infections. The more frequent indications for vancomycin use were pneumonia (48.3%) and primary sepsis (18.6%), accounting for more than 66% of all treatments. No restriction policy was suggested because vancomycin use was considered adequate in the majority of the treatment cases. The broad empiric use of this antimicrobial was greater than expected in the institution and its use should be revised.