Abstract The fabrication of carvacrol-loaded chitosan nanoparticles was achieved by a two-step method, i.e., oil-in-water emulsion and ionic gelation of chitosan with pentasodium tripolyphosphate. The obtained particles possessed encapsulation efficiency (EE) and loading capacity (LC) in the ranges of 14–31% and 3–21%, respectively, when the initial carvacrol content was 0.25–1.25g/g of chitosan. The individual particles exhibited a spherical shape with an average diameter of 40–80nm, and a positively charged surface with a zeta potential value of 25–29mV. The increment of initial carvacrol content caused a reduction of surface charge. Carvacrol-loaded chitosan nanoparticles showed antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Escherichia coli with an MIC of 0.257mg/mL. The release of carvacrol from chitosan nanoparticles reached plateau level on day 30, with release amounts of 53% in acetate buffer solution with pH of 3, and 23% and 33% in phosphate buffer solutions with pH of 7 and 11, respectively. The release mechanism followed a Fickian behavior. The release rate was superior in an acidic medium to either alkaline or neutral media, respectively.