The objective of this review is to examine briefly the medical uses of garlic throughout the ages and the role that it was considered to play in prevention and treatment of disease. Interest in the potential benefits of garlic has origins in antiquity and is one of the earliest documented examples of plants employed for treatment of disease and maintenance of health. Garlic was in use at the beginning of recorded history and was found in Egyptian pyramids and ancient Greek temples. There are Biblical references to garlic. Ancient medical texts from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and India each prescribed medical applications for garlic. In many cultures, garlic was administered to provide strength and increase work capacity for laborers. Hippocrates, the revered physician, prescribed garlic for a variety of conditions. Garlic was given to the original Olympic athletes in Greece, as perhaps one of the earliest "performance enhancing" agents. It is of interest that cultures that developed without contact with one another came to similar conclusions about the efficacy of garlic. Modern science is tending to confirm many of the beliefs of ancient cultures regarding garlic, defining mechanisms of action and exploring garlic's potential for disease prevention and treatment.