Staphylococcus aureus causes pathologies ranging from minor skin infections to life-threatening diseases. Pathogenic effects are largely due to production of bacterial toxin, which is regulated by an RNA molecule, RNAIII. The S. aureus protein called RAP (RNAIII activating protein) activates RNAIII, and a peptide called RIP (RNAIII inhibiting peptide), produced by a nonpathogenic bacteria, inhibits RNAIII. Mice vaccinated with RAP or treated with purified or synthetic RIP were protected from S. aureus pathology. Thus, these two molecules may provide useful approaches for the prevention and treatment of diseases caused by S. aureus.