Multi-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii isolates obtained from 13 hospitalized patients over a six-month period were evaluated. One patient had an isolate susceptible only to imipenem; the next three had isolates susceptible to imipenem and ampicillin/sulbactam; the next six patients had isolates which were susceptible to imipenem, amikacin, and ampicillin/sulbactam; while the final three patients hi-id isolates which were susceptible to imipenem and ampicillin/sulbactam. Ten patients died, five within 10 days of a positive culture. Five of six patients with bacteraemia succumbed to the infection. DNA extracted from all isolates was amplified by polymerase chain reaction using four random primers (RAPD). The resulting band patterns were compared and strains identified. In addition, all isolates were biotyped. RAPD analysis and biotyping showed that there were two distinct strains involved. The first four patients were infected with one strain (genotype 'A', biotype 9), the subsequent nine patients were infected with a second strain (genotype 'B', biotype 1). These results suggested that there was patient-to-patient spread of strains. Institution of, and strict adherence to, isolation procedure and other infection control practices controlled the spread of infection. These data emphasize the need for active surveillance for multidrug-resistant organisms in critically ill patients, and the value of molecular typing of strains in a hospital setting to investigate spread of infection.