The bactericidal activity of phlorotannins from brown algae against food-borne pathogenic bacteria (25 strains), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (nine strains) and Streptococcus pyogenes (one strain) was examined and compared with that of catechins. In addition, the effect of the oral administration of phlorotannins on mice was investigated. Phlorotannins, which are oligomers of phloroglucinol, were extracted from thalli of the brown alga Ecklonia kurome and prepared by silicic acid chromatography. The bactericidal activity of polyphenols was determined using a broth microdilution method. Of the bacteria tested, Campylobacter spp. were the most susceptible to the phlorotannins. The MBCs of the crude phlorotannins, dieckol and 8,8'-bieckol (hexamers), and that of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) against Campylobacter jejuni were 50 mg/L, 0.03 micromol/mL and 0.03 micromol/mL, respectively. On the whole, the bactericidal effects of the phlorotannins were more pronounced than those of the catechins. The phlorotannins were as effective against MRSA as against the other bacteria tested. At twice the MBCs, all Vibrio parahaemolyticus were killed within 0.5-2 h. However, at the same concentration, catechins showed little bactericidal activity within 4 h. No effect on mice was observed with oral administration of the phlorotannins under the conditions tested.