The purpose of the study was to investigate antibacterial activity of ripe and unripe Carica papaya on selected micro-organisms. Cultures of micro-organisms were routinely maintained in nutrient agar slants at 4 degrees C. Extracts of immature, mature and ripe Carica papaya fruit were obtained by separately grinding factions of the epicarp, endocarp and seeds and filtering them through gauze. Sensitivity tests were conducted by adding 0.06 ml of extract to agar wells (6 mm diameter) prepared from 20 ml agar seeded with 10(6) cells/ml suspension of one of the eight organisms per plate. The inoculated plates were allowed to equilibrate at 4 degrees C for 1 hour, incubated at 37 degrees C for 24 hours, and zones of inhibition measured in millimetres. Anti-bacterial activity was expressed in terms of the radius of zone of inhibition. Seed extracts from the fruit showed inhibition in the following order: B cereus > E coli > S faecalis > S aureus > P vulgaris > S flexneri. No significant difference was found in bacterial sensitivity between immature, mature and ripe fruits. No inhibition zone was produced by epicarp and endocarp extracts. Carica papaya seeds contain anti-bacterial activity that inhibits growth of gram-positive and gram-negative organisms. Observed activity was independent of stage of fruit maturity. Carica papaya has antibacterial effects that could be useful in treating chronic skin ulcers to promote healing.