Eighty-six Staphylococcus aureus isolates from cases of bovine mastitis were characterised biochemically and with respect to serotype, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis genotypes, antibiotic sensitivity, and production of enterotoxins A through D (SEA-D) and toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1). The samples were obtained from 81 different cows from 79 Norwegian dairy herds in 10 different counties in southern Norway. There was an equal representation of isolates from cases of acute, chronic and subclinical mastitis. Multilocus enzyme electrophoresis using 13 genetic loci showed that 69 of 86 isolates had the same electrophoretic type. This common electrophoretic type comprised isolates that differed in the expression of other phenotypical characteristics studied. Fifty-eight percent of the isolates produced one or more enterotoxins, predominantly a combination of SEC and TSST-1. Capsular serotyping revealed that 95% of the isolates belonged to serotype 8. No correlation was found between the factors studied and the clinical classification of mastitis. It appears that the majority of S. aureus isolates recovered from cases of bovine mastitis in Norway are genetically closely related and express common phenotypical characteristics.