Abstract. The essential oil extracted from clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is used as a topical application to relieve pain and promote healing in herbal medicine and also finds use in the fragrance and flavouring industries. Clove oil has two major components, eugenol and β-caryophyllene, which constitute 78% and 13% of the oil, respectively. Clove oil and these components are generally recognized as ‘safe’, but the in-vitro study here demonstrates cytotoxic properties of both the oil and eugenol, towards human fibroblasts and endothelial cells. Clove oil was found to be highly cytotoxic at concentrations as low as 0.03% (v/v) with up to 73% of this effect attributable to eugenol. β-caryophyllene did not exhibit any cytotoxic activity, indicating that other cytotoxic components may also exist within the parent oil.