Ether extracts of 495 Chinese medicinal herbs from 106 families were studied for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) early antigen (EA) induction in the Raji cell system. 15 herbs from 10 families were found to have inducing activity. Water extracts of the same herbs also had inducing activity, but it was not as strong. The significance of these herbs in the activation of EBV in vivo and their relation to the development of nasopharyngeal carcinoma are discussed. No EA-inducing activity was found in 73 samples of 14 different foods tested.