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The antibacterial action of honey in infected wounds does not depend wholly on its high osmolarity. We tested the sensitivity of 58 strains of coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from infected wounds, to a pasture honey and a manuka honey. There was little variation between the isolates in their sensitivity to honey: minimum inhibitory concentrations were all between 2 and 3% (v/v) for the manuka honey and between 3 and 4% for the pasture honey. Thus, these honeys would prevent growth of S. aureus if diluted by body fluids a further seven-fold to fourteen-fold beyond the point where their osmolarity ceased to be completely inhibitory. The antibacterial action of the pasture honey relied on release of hydrogen peroxide, which in vivo might be reduced by catalase activity in tissues or blood. The action of manuka honey stems partly from a phytochemical component, so this type of honey might be more effective in vivo. Comparative clinical trials with standardized honeys are needed.