Background. Staphylococcus aureus is capable of persistently colonizing the vestibulum nasi. We hypothesized that polymorphisms in host inflammatory response genes and genetic variation in S. aureus contribute to susceptibility to S. aureus carriage and infection. Methods. The prevalence of persistent nasal carriage of S. aureus in 3851 participants aged 61-101 years was 18% (678 of 3851 participants), whereas 73% of volunteers (2804 of 3851) were not colonized. A total of 1270 individuals had boils. Polymorphisms in TNFA (C -863T), IL4 (C -542T), CFH (Tyr402His), and CRP (C1184T, C2042T, and C2911G) were determined. Genetic similarity among 428 S. aureus isolates was determined by use of amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis (AFLP)-mediated genotyping. Results. The IL4 -524 C/C host genotype was associated with an increased risk of persistent S. aureus carriage, irrespective of S. aureus AFLP genotype. The CRP haplotype 1184C; 2042C; 2911C was overrepresented in individuals who were not colonized . In individuals with boils, carriers of the CFH Tyr402 variant, and the CRP 2911 C/C genotype were overrepresented. Conclusion. Persistent carriage of S. aureus is influenced by genetic variation in host inflammatory response genes. As would be expected in multifactorial host-microbe interactions, these effects are limited. Interestingly, host genotype was associated with the carriage of certain S. aureus genotypes. Apparently, a close interaction between host and bacterial determinants are prerequisites for long-term colonization.