Four rapid latex agglutination assays, StaphAurex (Wellcome Diagnostics, Research Triangle Park, N.C.), Bacto Staph (Difco Laboratories, Detroit, Mich.), SeroSTAT (Scott Laboratories, Inc., Fiskeville, R.I.), Veri-Staph (Zeus Technologies, Raritan, N.J.), and two hemagglutination tests, Staphyloslide (BBL Microbiology Systems, Cockeysville, Md.) and Hemastaph (Remel, Lenexa, Kans.), were compared with the conventional slide coagulase, tube coagulase (TC), and thermonuclease (TNase) tests for the identification of Staphylococcus aureus. A total of 118 clinical isolates of S. aureus (52 methicillin resistant), 50 S. epidermidis, 5 S. capitis, 2 S. hominis, 3 S. simulans, 6 S. saprophyticus, and 2 S. warneri were tested. The slide coagulase, TC and TNase tests detected 115 (97.5%), 117 (99.2%), and 118 (100%) of the S. aureus isolates, respectively. All showed 100% specificity. The StaphAurex, Veri-Staph, Staphyloslide, Hemastaph, SeroSTAT, and Bacto Staph assays correctly identified 117 (99.2%), 117 (99.2%), 116 (98.3%), 110 (93.2%), 108 (91.5%), and 107 (90.7%) of the S. aureus isolates, respectively. For methicillin-resistant S. aureus isolates, StaphAurex, Veri-Staph, Staphyloslide, Hemastaph, SeroSTAT, and Bacto Staph showed 1 (2%), 1 (2%), 2 (4%), 7 (13.5%), 7 (13.5%), and 8 (15.4%) false-negative results, respectively. All the commercial agglutination assays demonstrated false-positive results with strains of S. capitis, S. saprophyticus and S. warneri. The overall accuracy of the commercial agglutination assays compared with TC and TNase ranged from 90.7 to 99.2%. We recommend that negative reactions with the rapid commercial test kits for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus isolates be confirmed with the TC or TNase test.