The overuse of antibiotics and the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance prompted the launch of an antimicrobial stewardship programme in 2011. This study aimed to investigate the trends and correlations between antibiotic consumption and resistance of Staphylococcus aureus in a tertiary hospital of northwest China from 2010 to 2016. Trends were analysed by linear regression, and correlations were assessed by an autoregressive integrated moving average model. The total consumption of antibiotics halved during the 7-year study period, while the rates of resistance of S. aureus decreased significantly or remained stable; methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) declined markedly, from 73.3% at the beginning of the study to 41.4% by the end. This latter decrease was significantly correlated with the consumption of several classes of antibiotics. In conclusion, reduction in antibiotic use impacted significantly on resistance rates and contributed to a decline in MRSA prevalence.