Ether extracts of 1693 Chinese medicinal herbs and plants from 268 families were studied for the induction of Epstein-Barr viral (EBV) early antigen (EA) expression in the Raji cell line. Fifty-two from 18 families were found to have inducing activity. Twenty-five and seven of them were from Euphorbiaceae and Thymelaeaeeae, respectively. Some of them, such as Croton tiglium, Euphorbia kansui, Daphne genkwa, Wikstroemia chamaedaphne, Wikstroemia indica, Prunus mandshurica Koehne and Achyranthes bidentata are commonly used drugs. The significance of these herbs in the activation of EBV in vivo and their relation to the development of nasopharyngeal carcinoma were discussed.