We examined the difference between Escherichia coli O157 and non-pathogenic E. coli in their tolerance to spices. Various spices (5 g each) were homogenized at 25 degrees C for 10 min with 5 ml of 70% ethyl alcohol, and the supernatant solutions obtained by centrifugation were used as spice extracts. When the E. coli strains were incubated with each spice extract at concentrations of 0.01% and 0.1%, a noteworthy difference was observed between the O157 and non-pathogenic strains in their tolerance to nutmeg. The populations of the non-pathogenic strains could not be reduced, but those of the O157 strains were remarkably reduced. Antibacterial activity by the nutmeg extract was also found against the enteropathogenic E. coli O111, but not against enterotoxigenic (O6 and O148) and enteroinvasive (O29 and O124) E. coli. When we examined the antibacterial effect of volatile oils in nutmeg on the O157 and non-pathogenic E. coli strains, all O157 strains tested were found to be more sensitive to beta-pinene than non-pathogenic E. coli strains.