The aim of this work was to determine the antibacterial activity of essential coriander oil (ECO) on bacteria with dermatological relevance and to assess the skin tolerance of antimicrobial effective ECO concentrations. Essential coriander oil was tested on clinical isolates of different bacteria species, all of which may cause superficial skin infections. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed using a standardized macrodilution test. Essential coriander oil showed good antibacterial activity towards the majority of the bacterial strains tested, includingStreptococcus pyogenes(Lancefield group A) and methicillin resistantStaphylococcus aureus(MRSA), with mean minimal inhibitory concentrations of 0.04% v/v and 0.25% v/v, respectively. The skin tolerance of a cream and a lotion containing 0.5% and 1.0% ECO was assessed in 40 healthy volunteers using the occlusive patch test. No skin irritation could be observed by sensitive photometric assessment in any of the volunteers. Because of its activity againstStreptococcus pyogenes,Staphylococcus aureusand MRSA combined with excellent skin tolerance, ECO might be useful as an antiseptic for the prevention and treatment of skin infections with Gram-positive bacteria. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.