Bacterial survival on, and interactions with, human skin may explain the epidemiological success of MRSA strains. We evaluated the bacterial counts for 27 epidemic and 31 sporadic MRSA strains on 3D epidermal models based on N/TERT cells (NEMs) after 1, 2 and 8 days. In addition, the expression of antimicrobial peptides (hBD-2, RNase 7), inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6) and chemokine IL-8 by NEMs was assessed using immunoassays and the expression of 43 S. aureus virulence factors was determined by a multiplex competitive Luminex assay. To explore donor variation, bacterial counts for five epidemic and seven sporadic MRSA strains were determined on 3D primary keratinocyte models (LEMs) from three human donors. Bacterial survival was comparable on NEMs between the two groups, but on LEMs, sporadic strains showed significantly lower survival numbers compared to epidemic strains. Both groups triggered the expression of immune factors. Upon interaction with NEMs, only the epidemic MRSA strains expressed pore-forming toxins, including alpha-hemolysin (Hla), gamma-hemolysin (HlgB), Panton-Valentine leucocidin (LukS) and LukED. Together, these data indicate that the outcome of the interaction between MRSA and human skin mimics, depends on the unique combination of bacterial strain and host factors.