Since 1989, a rapid increase in the incidence of infection and colonization with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) has been reported by U.S. hospitals. This increase poses important problems, including a) the lack of available antimicrobial therapy for VRE infections, because most VRE are also resistant to drugs previously used to treat such infections (e.g., aminoglycosides and ampicillin), and b) the possibility that the vancomycin-resistant genes present in VRE can be transferred to other gram-positive microorganisms (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus). An increased risk for VRE infection and colonization has been associated with previous vancomycin and/or multiantimicrobial therapy, severe underlying disease or immunosuppression, and intraabdominal surgery. Because enterococci can be found in the normal gastrointestinal and female genital tracts, most enterococcal infections have been attributed to endogenous sources within the individual patient. However, recent reports of outbreaks and endemic infections caused by enterococci, including VRE, have indicated that patient-to-patient transmission of the microorganisms can occur either through direct contact or through indirect contact via a) the hands of personnel or b) contaminated patient-care equipment or environmental surfaces. This report presents recommendations of the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee for preventing and controlling the spread of vancomycin resistance, with a special focus on VRE. Preventing and controlling the spread of vancomycin resistance will require coordinated, concerted efforts from all involved hospital departments and can be achieved only if each of the following elements is addressed: a) prudent vancomycin use by clinicians, b) education of hospital staff regarding the problem of vancomycin resistance, c) early detection and prompt reporting of vancomycin resistance in enterococci and other gram-positive microorganisms by the hospital microbiology laboratory, and d) immediate implementation of appropriate infection-control measures to prevent person-to-person transmission of VRE.