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The clinical courses of 13 consecutive intravenous drug users with Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis treated principally with vancomycin were reviewed. Two patients, one with only right-sided endocarditis and the other with tricuspid and mitral valve endocarditis, had recurrences of positive blood cultures 2 days after completing a 4-week course of vancomycin. Two patients, both of whom eventually were cured, had modifications of therapy because of bacteremia persisting 7 and 16 days into therapy. One patient required an operation for recurrent fevers, and the resected vegetation showed evidence of active infection. Time-kill studies performed with nafcillin and vancomycin for 10 isolates of S. aureus showed that vancomycin was less rapidly bactericidal than nafcillin. Although vancomycin is used as an alternative to penicillinase-resistant penicillins for treatment of staphylococcal endocarditis, these findings raise the question of whether it is equivalent to these drugs in efficacy.