Eight essential oils obtained by steam distillation from the scented leaves of Pelargonium species and cultivars were added at 250, 500 and 1000 ppm to a quiche filling, inoculated with either Saccharomyces ludwigii or Zygosaccharomyces bailii (at 108 cfu g−1), Salmonella enteriditis or Listeria innocua (at 109 cfu g−1). The quiche fillings were then kept at 25 °C for 24 h and the residual number of micro-organisms determined using the pour plate technique. There was an effective antimicrobial activity by the Pelargonium essential oils at 250 ppm, comparable with that of commercial thyme oil, an excellent antimicrobial agent, against Saccharomyces ludwigii and Zygosaccharomyces bailii, and a lesser inhibition compared with commercial thyme against Salm. enteriditis. There was a greater diversity of activity against L. innocua, which was in some cases more effective than commercial thyme oil. At 500 ppm, there was a greatly increased inhibition of microbial growth using the Pelargonium essential oils, which was comparable with that of commercial thyme, clove, geranium and coriander oils. As there is no evidence for the toxicity of any of these novel Pelargonium oils, and their odour does not make the delicately flavoured quiche filling unpalatable, there is a strong potential for their use in food processing.