It was the objective of the study to estimate the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in bulk tank milk from German dairy herds and to characterize isolates from bulk tank milk with respect to their Staph. aureus protein A (spa) and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) type, their phenotypic antimicrobial resistance and resistance- resp. virulence-associated genes using broth microdilution and a microarray for Staph. aureus. Bulk tank milk samples (25 mL) were tested for MRSA using a 2-step selective enrichment protocol. Presumptive MRSA were confirmed by PCR. Thirty-six isolates collected from bulk tank milk of dairy herds in 2009 and 2010 were included in the characterization. All isolates displayed spa-types assigned to the clonal complex CC398. Based on the epidemiological cut-off values for the interpretation of minimum inhibitory concentrations isolates were resistant to tetracycline (100%), clindamycin (58%), erythromycin (52%), quinupristin/dalfopristin (36%), and kanamycin (27%). Isolates did not carry genes associated with typical virulence factors for Staph. aureus such as the Panton-Valentine leukocidin. However, they did carry hemolysin genes. Livestock-associated MRSA of CC398 does occur in German dairy herds and the strains have similar properties as described for strains from pigs.