The present study was conducted to evaluate the in vitro antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of essential oil and methanol extracts from a unique and endemic plant, Thymus spathulifolius (Hausskn. and Velen.). The antimicrobial test results showed that the essential oil of T spathulifolius strongly inhibited the growth of test microorganisms studied, except for 4 fungi species while polar and non-polar subfractions of the methanol extract had moderate antibacterial, but not antifungal and anticandidal activity. The antioxidative potential of the samples was evaluated using two separate methods, inhibition of free radical 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and beta-carotene-linoleic acid systems. The polar subfraction of the methanol extract was able to reduce the stable free radical 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) with an IC50 of 16.15 +/- 0.5 mug/ml, which was lower than that of synthetic antioxidant, BHT, (19.8 +/- 0.5 mug/ml). Inhibition values of linoleic acid oxidation were calculated as 92% and 89% for the oil and the polar subfraction, respectively. Gallic acid equivalent total phenolic constituent of the polar subfraction was 141.00 +/- 0.90 mug/mg (14.1%, w/w). The chemical composition of a hydrodistilled essential oil of T spathulifolius was analyzed by a GC and GUMS system. A total of 28 constituents representing 99.2% of the oil were identified; thymol (36.5%), carvacrol (29.8%), p-cymene (10.0%) and gamma-terpinene (6.3%) were the main components comprising 82.6% of the oil. Results presented here may suggest that the essential oil and extracts of T spathulifolius possess antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and therefore, they can be used as a natural preservative ingredient in food and/or pharmaceutical industry. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.