The antibacterial activity of propolis from different regions of Turkey was studied, accompanied by TLC and GC-MS analyses of its chemical composition and spectrophotometric quantification of the most important active principles. All six samples were active against the bacterial test strains used; however, samples 1 (Yozgat), 2 (Izmir) and 3 (Kayseri) were more active than samples 4 (Adana), 5 (Erzurum) and 6 (Artvin). By TLC comparison all samples were found to contain poplar taxonomic markers but in samples 4 (Adana), 5 (Erzurum) and 6 (Artvin), different substances were observed, which were not present in P. nigra L. bud exudate. The typical poplar samples I (Yozgat), 2 (Izmir) and 3 (Kayseri) displayed very similar phenolic and flavonoid content. Samples 4 (Adana), 5 (Erzurum) and 6 (Artvin) were characterized by low phenolic and very low flavonoid concentrations. Qualitative analysis by GC-MS revealed that sample 4 (Adana) contained diterpenic acids and high percent of cinnamyl cinnamate, sample 5 (Erzurum) - significant amounts of hydroxy fatty acids and triterpenic alcohols, and sample 6 (Artvin) - phenolic glycerides, characteristic for the bud exudate of Populus euphratica Oliv. The results confirm the importance of phenolics for propolis antibacterial activity, and the significance of P. nigra L. as a propolis source, which provides the hive with the best defense against microorganisms. (c) 2004 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.