Strict infection control measures introduced during the 1970s have kept the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections extremely low in Denmark. Nevertheless, similarly to other countries, MRSA infections began to appear in the community in the late 1990s. A nationwide surveillance program has collected and stored all MRSA isolates since 1988 and, since 1999, clinical information has been also recorded. We used this information and isolates in a detailed epidemiological and molecular analysis of the 81 MRSA infections identified in Denmark in 2001. MRSA isolates were characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), spa typing, multilocus sequence typing, and SCCmec typing. Comparison of the 45 community-onset MRSA (CO-MRSA) infections with the 36 hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA) infections showed several striking contrasts. Most CO-MRSA were recovered from skin and soft tissue infections caused by isolates carrying the Panton-Valentine leucocidin toxin genes, and the majority (84%) of isolates belonged to a single clonal type, ST80-IV, which has been found in the community in other European countries. Clone ST80-IV could be traced in Denmark back to 1993. ST80-IV was rarely found in HA-MRSA infections, which belonged to a large number of clonal types, including some pandemic MRSA clones. The low number of HA-MRSA infections and the diversity of MRSA clones in Danish hospitals may be the result of successful infection control measures that prevent spread of clones in hospitals. The mechanism of spread of the ST80-IV clone in the Danish community is not known, and new control measures are needed to control further spread of this and other CA-MRSA clones.