The composition and in vitro antibacterial activity of essential oils from four Satureja species (S. bachtiarica, S. khuzistanica, S. mutica and S. rechingeri) growing in Iran were determined. According to the results of GC-FID and GC-MS analysis, all oil samples were principally composed of phenolic constituents (carvacrol and/or thymol) with the percentages ranging from 41.2% (S. bachtiarica) to 77.7% (S. rechingeri). Determining antibacterial activities by the disc diffusion method against two Gram-positive and two Gram-negative bacteria revealed the maximum activity against Bacillus cereus with a range of minimum inhibitory concentration values from 0.25 to 1 mg mL(-1) and minimum bactericidal concentration values from 0.5 to 1 mg mL(-1). The oils of S. khuzistanica and S. rechingeri appeared to be more active in general than those of other species. In conclusion, the essential oils of studied Satureja species have the potential to be considered as alternatives for synthetic food preservatives.