Vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) typically arises through accumulation of chromosomal mutations that alter cell-wall thickness and global regulatory pathways. Genome-based prediction of VISA requires understanding whether strain background influences patterns of mutation that lead to resistance. We used an iterative method to experimentally evolve three important methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strain backgrounds-(CC1, CC5 and CC8 (USA300)) to generate a library of 120 laboratory selected VISA isolates. At the endpoint, isolates had vancomycin MICs ranging from 4 to 10 [mu]g/mL. We detected mutations in more than 150 genes, but only six genes (already known to be associated with VISA from prior studies) were mutated in all three background strains (walK, prs, rpoB, rpoC, vraS, yvqF). We found evidence of interactions between loci (e.g., vraS and yvqF mutants were significantly negatively correlated) and rpoB, rpoC, vraS and yvqF were more frequently mutated in one of the backgrounds. Increasing vancomycin resistance was correlated with lower maximal growth rates (a proxy for fitness) regardless of background. However, CC5 VISA isolates had higher MICs with fewer rounds of selection and had lower fitness costs than the CC8 VISA isolates. Using multivariable regression, we found that genes differed in their contribution to overall MIC depending on the background. Overall, these results demonstrated that VISA evolved through mutations in a similar set of loci in all backgrounds, but the effect of mutation in common genes differed with regard to fitness and contribution to resistance in different strains.