Antibacterial activity of fifteen essential oil components towards food borne Staphylococcus sp., Micrococcus sp., Bacillus sp. and Enterobacter sp. was studied by an agar plate technique. Cinnamic aldehyde was the most active compound followed by citral, geraniol, eugenol and menthol. At 500 micrograms/ml, cinnamic aldehyde completely inhibited the bacterial growth for more than 30 days at 30 degrees C that was comparable to 200 micrograms/ml of butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA). At lower temperatures, 25 and 20 degrees C, antibacterial activity of the five essential oil components increased. Addition of sodium chloride at 4% level (w/v) in the medium had no effect on the inhibitory activity of cinnamic aldehyde. In mixtures of cinnamic aldehyde and eugenol or BHA an additive effect was observed.