BACKGROUND: The Canadian Ward Surveillance Study (CANWARD 2007) tested isolates collected from January to December 2007 from 12 Canadian hospitals to a range of antimicrobial agents. The present paper focuses on antimicrobial resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae in Canadian hospitals, with an emphasis on macrolide resistance. MEtHODS: Minimum inhibitory concentrations of antimicrobial agents were determined using the broth microdilution method and interpreted according to Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute breakpoints. Macrolide-nonsusceptible strains (clarithromycin minimum inhibitory concentrations 0.5 μg/mL or greater) were analyzed by multiplex polymerase chain reaction for the presence of mefA and ermB genes. RESULTS: S pneumoniae represented 9.0% (706 of 7881) of all isolates collected in CANWARD 2007. Of the 706 S pneumoniae isolates collected, 33.1% (234) were from blood and 66.9% (472) were from respiratory specimens. The overall resistance (resistant and intermediate) rates for S pneumoniae isolated from respiratory and blood specimens, respectively, were: penicillin (23.9%, 14.4%), clarithromycin (22.1%, 12.6%), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (14.7%, 11.5%), doxycycline (7.8%, 5.1%) and clindamycin (7.1%, 3.3%). Multidrug resistance (resistance to penicillin, clarithromycin and trimethoprimsulfamethoxazole) accounted for 2% (n=9) and 0.5% (n=1) of respiratory and blood isolates, respectively. Susceptibility of 95% or greater was found with amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (99.5%, 99.3%), ceftriaxone (99.5%, 100%), cefuroxime (95.0%, 96.8%), ertapenem (99.8%, 100%), meropenem (96.1%, 99.5%) and levofloxacin (99.1%, 100%) for respiratory and blood specimens, respectively. No resistance to vancomycin, tigecycline, cethromycin or telithromycin was found. mefA was present in 53.6% (52 of 97) of respiratory and 59.3% (16 of 27) of blood macrolide-nonsusceptible S pneumoniae, while ermB was present in 38.1% (37 of 97) of respiratory and 37% (10 of 27) of blood isolates. Eight of 97 (8.2%) respiratory and one of 27 (3.7%) blood isolates contained both mefA and ermB genes. CONCLUSIONS: S pneumoniae is a common organism isolated from clinical specimens in Canadian hospitals. Resistance was highest to penicillin and clarithromycin, while ceftriaxone and levofloxacin susceptibility were both greater than 99%. No isolates resistant to vancomycin, tigecycline, linezolid or the ketolides were found. Resistance rates were higher among respiratory tract isolates of S pneumoniae than among blood isolates. Macrolide efflux, mefA, was the predominant mechanism of macrolide resistance among both respiratory and blood clarithromycin-nonsusceptible isolates.