The antimicrobial activity of different edible vegetable oils was studied. In vitro results revealed that the oils from olive fruits had a strong bactericidal action against a broad spectrum of microorganisms, this effect being higher in general against Gram-positive than Gram-negative bacteria. Thus, olive oils showed bactericidal activity not only against harmful bacteria of the intestinal microbiota (Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli) also against beneficial microorganisms such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Otherwise, most of the foodborne pathogens tested (Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Yersinia sp., and Shigella sonnei) did not survive after 1 h of contact with olive oils. The dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl oleuropein and ligstroside aglycons, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, were the phenolic compounds that statistically correlated with bacterial survival. These findings were confirmed by testing each individual phenolic compound, isolated by HPLC, against L. monocytogenes. In particular, the dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl ligstroside aglycon showed a potent antimicrobial activity. These results indicate that not all oils classified as "olive oil" had similar bactericidal effects and that this bioactivity depended on their content of certain phenolic compounds.