The antibacterial activity of the medium chain fatty acids and their 1-monoglycerides was evaluated towards several Gram-positive strains belonging to the genera Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, Bacillus, Listeria and Streptococcus. The 1-monoglycerides were more active than the fatty acids with monolaurin being the most active compound. Interesting effects were observed when the streptococcal strain Streptococcus pyogenes was used as a test microorganism. First, blocking of the hydroxyl groups of the glycerol moiety of monolaurin led to a compound with remarkable antibacterial activity (MIC, 3.9 microg/ml). Secondly, synergistic relationships were observed between monolaurin and monocaprin as well as between monolaurin and the poorly active lauric acid when their two component mixtures were examined. The mixtures in which one of the components was 2-fold more predominant than the other one were much more active than the pure components taken individually. Moreover, the presence of the components in ratio 1:1 was disadvantageous. Synergistic relationships were also found between monolaurin and monomyristin towards Staphylococcus aureus 209 when monomyristin was in the same quantity as monolaurin or in shortage.