Characteristics of film from fish skin gelatin incorporated with four leaf essential oils (lemongrass, basil, citronella and kaffir lime), as influenced by different surfactants (Tween-20, Tween-80 and soy lecithin), were investigated. Films incorporated with all essential oils had lower tensile strength with higher elongation at break and thickness, compared with control film (P < 0.05). Films added with Tween-20 showed higher TS, compared with those containing other surfactants (P < 0.05). Water vapour permeability of films incorporated with all essential oils markedly decreased in comparison with control (P < 0.05). Films generally became darker and more yellowness, when incorporated with essential oils. Film containing basil essential oil had the highest DPPH radical– and ABTS radical–scavenging activities, compared with those added with other essential oils. Higher antioxidative activity was obtained in films containing essential oils when soy lecithin was used as surfactant, probably due to the combined effect of both constituents.