The chemical composition of essential oils of cabreuva (Myrocarpus fastigiatus Allemao, Fabaceae) from Brazil, cedarwood (Juniperus ashei, Cupressaceae) from Texas, Juniper berries (Juniperus communis L., Cupressaceae) and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha (Nees) Engl., Burseraceae) were analyzed using GC/FID and GC/MS. The antimicrobial activity of these essential oils and some of their main compounds were tested against eleven different strains of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria by using agar diffusion and agar serial dilution methods. Animal and plant pathogens, food poisoning and spoilage bacteria were selected. The volatile oils exhibited considerable inhibitory effects against all tested organisms, except Pseudomonas, using both test methods. Higher activity was observed against Gram-positive strains in comparison with Gram-negative bacteria. Cabreuva oil from Brazil showed similar results, but in comparison with the other oils tested, only when higher concentrations of oil were used.