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In recent years there has been an increase in the incidence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) infections in healthy individuals, the cause of which is largely unknown. CA-MRSA primarily causes skin and soft-tissue infections but certain strains are also associated with unusually severe pathology. The purpose of this review is to provide a critical analysis of our current knowledge of virulence factors contributing to skin and soft-tissue infections caused by CA-MRSA.Isolates classified as pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type USA300 have emerged as the predominant CA-MRSA genotype and in most geographic areas account for 97% or more of CA-MRSA infections. Recent key studies, such as those reporting the complete genome sequence of USA300, and the discovery of cytolytic peptides that contribute significantly to CA-MRSA virulence, lead the way for future investigations.Although we have only a cursory understanding of the molecular mechanisms of CA-MRSA virulence, studies using clinically relevant CA-MRSA isolates are beginning to identify virulence determinants specific to this pathogen. Identifying CA-MRSA virulence determinants and the concerted regulation of these factors will foster development of vaccines and therapeutics designed to control CA-MRSA skin infections.