Genetic information about Enterococcus hirae is limited, a feature that has compromised our understanding of these clinically challenging bacteria. In this study, comparative analysis was performed of E. hirae R17, a daptomycin-resistant strain isolated from pork purchased from a retail market in Beijing, China, and three other enterococcal genomes (Enterococcus faecium DO, Enterococcus faecalis V583, and E. hirae ATCC™ 9790). Some 1,412 genes were identified that represented the core genome together with an additional 139 genes that were specific to E. hirae R17. The functions of these R17 strain-specific coding sequences relate to the COGs categories of carbohydrate transport and metabolism and transcription, a finding that suggests the carbohydrate utilization capacity of E. hirae R17 may be more extensive when compared with the other three bacterial species (spp.). Analysis of genomic islands and virulence genes highlighted the potential that horizontal gene transfer played as a contributor of variations in pathogenicity in this isolate. Drug-resistance gene prediction and antibiotic susceptibility testing indicated E. hirae R17 was resistant to several antimicrobial compounds, including bacitracin, ciprofloxacin, daptomycin, erythromycin, and tetracycline, thereby limiting chemotherapeutic treatment options. Further, tolerance to biocides and metals may confer a phenotype that facilitates the survival and adaptation of this isolate against food preservatives, disinfectants, and antibacterial coatings. The genomic plasticity, mediated by IS elements, transposases, and tandem repeats, identified in the E. hirae R17 genome may support adaptation to new environmental niches, such as those that are found in hospitalized patients. A predicted transmissible plasmid, pRZ1, was found to carry several antimicrobial determinants, along with some predicted pathogenic genes. These data supported the previously determined phenotype confirming that the foodborne E. hirae R17 is a multidrug-resistant pathogenic bacterium with evident genome plasticity and environmental adaptability.© 2017 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.