Diseases transmitted by ticks are causing increasing concern in Europe and all around the world. Repellents are an effective measure for reducing the risk of tick bite; products based on natural compounds represent an interesting alternative to common synthetic repellents. In this study the repellency of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) was tested against the tick Ixodes ricinus L., by using a laboratory bioassay. A bioassay-assisted fractionation allowed the identification of a compound involved in the biological activity. Eugenol appeared to be as repellent as DEET at two tested doses. Linalool, which was identified in the active fraction too, failed to give any response. Repellency of eugenol was proved also in the presence of human skin odour using a convenient and practical bioassay.