Major components of two tea-tree oil samples were identified using thin layer and gas-liquid chromatography (TLC and GLC). Using a TLC-bioautographic technique, the tea-tree oils, terpinen-4-ol, oc-terpineol and α-pinene were found to be active against Staphylococcus aureus, Staph. epidermidis and Propionibacterium acnes whereas cineole was inactive against these organisms. The MIC values of the three active compounds increased in the order α-terpineol < terpinen-4-ol < α-pinene for all three micro-organisms. MIC values of the tea-tree oils and terpinen-4-ol were lower for P. acnes than for the two staphylococci. This study supports the use of tea-tree oil in the treatment of acne, and demonstrates that terpinen-4-ol is not the sole active constituent of the oil.