The aim of this study was to evaluate the antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of the essential oil (EO) extracted from the leaves of Laurus nobilis L. The oil was analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Twenty seven components were identified, representing 96.6 % of the EO. The main compounds identified were 1,8-cineole (51.8 %), alpha-terpinyl acetate (11.2 %), and sabinene (10.1 %). The oil was screened for possible antioxidant activity using two complementary test systems: DPPH (2,2-diphenylpicrylhydrazyl) free radical-scavenging and the beta-carotene/linoleic acid assay. Both of these in vitro methods showed that the EO was a less powerful reducing agent than the well-known synthetic antioxidants, butylated hydroxytoluene and ascorbic acid. Also, the antimicrobial activity of the EO was tested against a panel of food-spoiling bacteria and one yeast strain. The minimum inhibitory concentration values for microorganisms that were sensitive to L. nobilis EO ranged from 125-2000 mu g/mL.