We report on the first occurrence of high-level gentamicin resistance (MICs > or = 512 microg/ml) in seven clinical isolates of Streptococcus pasteurianus from Hong Kong. These seven isolates were confirmed to be the species S. pasteurianus on the basis of nucleotide sequencing of the superoxide dismutase (sodA) gene. Epidemiological data as well as the results of pulse-field gel electrophoresis analysis suggested that the seven S. pasteurianus isolates did not belong to the same clone. Molecular characterization showed that they carried a chromosomal, transposon-borne resistance gene [aac(6')Ie-aph(2'')Ia] which was known to encode a bifunctional aminoglycoside-modifying enzyme. The genetic arrangement of this transposon was similar to that of Tn4001, a transposon previously recovered from Staphylococcus aureus and other gram-positive isolates. Genetic linkage with other resistance elements, such as the ermB gene for erythromycin resistance, was not evident. On the basis of these findings, we suggest that routine screening for high-level gentamicin resistance should be recommended for all clinically significant blood culture isolates. This is to avoid the inadvertent use of short-course combination therapy with penicillin and gentamicin, which may lead to the failure of treatment for endocarditis, the selection of drug-resistant Streptococcus pasteurianus and other gram-positive organisms, as well as the unnecessary usage of gentamicin, a drug with potential toxicity.