This study investigated the potential for the aromas of the essential oils of Salvia species to affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. Research has demonstrated that orally administered Salvia officinalis and Salvia lavandulaefolia are capable of modulating cognition and mood. The active compounds in the herbal products might also be present in the aromas and so produce similar effects. In an independent groups design, three conditions, S. officinalis aroma, S. lavandulaefolia aroma and no aroma were employed. One hundred and thirty-five healthy volunteers acted as participants, with 45 in each condition. Cognitive performance was assessed via the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) System. Bond–Lader mood scales measured the participants’ mood on three dimensions before and after the cognitive tasks. Data analysis revealed that the S. officinalis aroma group performed significantly better than the control group on the quality of memory and secondary memory primary outcome factors from the test battery. The Alert mood measure displayed significant differences between both aromas and the control condition. These findings suggest that the aromas of essential oils of Salvia species reproduce some but not all of the effects found following oral herb administration, and that interesting dissociations occur between subjective and objective responses. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.