Improvement in the high mortality from Staphylococcus aureus septicemia must address the individualized treatment (surgery and/or prolonged antibiotic treatment) of metastatic complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the results of a comprehensive diagnostic monitoring for metastatic complications in S. aureus septicemia. 68 consecutive patients with S. aureus septicemia were prospectively followed. The performance rate and results of chest X-ray, echocardiography, bone scintigraphy and leukocyte scintigraphy are described. Metastatic complications were found in 53% of the 68 patients, endocarditis in 26%. Positive findings resulted in surgical intervention in 23 patients. The total mortality defined as all deaths within 12 weeks was 24%; 81% of the deceased were > or = 60 years of age. Non-endocarditis patients with peripheral septic metastases had good prognosis. An active monitoring for metastatic complications in S. aureus septicemia is a necessary prerequisite for optimizing treatment and to improve survival rate.