Antimicrobial active films based on poly(lactic acid) (PLA) were prepared with poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) and thymol (0, 3, 6, 9, and 12 wt%) by solvent casting methods. The films were characterized by thermal, structural, mechanical, gas barrier, and antimicrobial properties. Scanning electron microscopy analysis revealed that the surface of film became rougher with certain porosity when thymol was incorporated into the PLA/PCL blends. Thymol acted as plasticizers, which reduce the intermolecular forces of polymer chains, thus improving the flexibility and extensibility of the films. The addition of PCL into the pure PLA film decreased the glass transition temperature of the films. The presence of thymol decreased the crystallinity of PLA phase, but did not affect the thermal stability of films. Water vapor barrier properties of films slightly decreased with the increase of thymol loading. The antimicrobial properties of thymol containing films showed a significant activity against Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes. The results indicated the potential of PLA/PCL/thymol composites for applications in antimicrobial packaging. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.