Essential oils are potential sources of novel components for medicinal use. The present study was performed to investigate the composition and anti-inflammatory activity of Ocimum americanum L. essential oil (OEO) and its components in an experimental model of zymosan-induced arthritis and paw edema. The essential oil was obtained by hydro-distillation and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Twenty-six components, representing 98.9% of the total oil, were characterized, with linalool (19.63%) and 1,8-cineole (17.27%) as the main components. The OEO and its two constituents inhibited leukocyte influx into the synovial space and reduced paw edema induced by zymosan. The OEO also inhibited interferon-γ levels but did not reduce transforming growth factor-β levels. Additionally, the OEO protected against leukocyte influx into the synovial membrane and cartilage destruction in knee joints in arthritic mice. These findings indicate that the essential oil of Ocimum americanum L. exerted significant anti-inflammatory effects, likely related to its main compounds.