Melissa officinalis L. (Lamiaceae) has been used in a variety of practical applications in medical science. Our objective in the current study was to determine the effects of the volatile oil components of M. officinalis on Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) replication in HEp-2 cells. Four different concentrations (25, 50, 100, 150 and 200 mug/ml) of volatile oils were examined. Experiments were carried out using HEp-2 cells. M. officinalis volatile oil was found to be non-toxic to HEp-2 cells up to a concentration of 100 mug/ml. It was, however, found to be slightly toxic at a concentration over of 100 mug/ml. The antiviral activity of non-toxic concentrations against HSV-2 was tested. The replication of HSV-2 was inhibited, indicating that the M. officinalis L. extract contains an anti-HSV-2 substance. (C) 2004 Elsevier GrnbH. All rights reserved.