Abstract Anthracnose, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, is the main post-harvest disease of the papaya. Inactivation of the spores of C. gloeosporioides in saline solution by the use of high hydrostatic pressure, citral oil and lemongrass oil, alone and in combination, was studied. C. gloeosporioides spores were efficiently inhibited after a pressure treatment of 350 MPa for 30 min. When C. gloeosporioides was treated with 0.75 mg ml −1 of citral or lemongrass oil, the pressure needed to achieve the same spore inhibition was 150 MPa. This work suggests the use of high hydrostatic pressure and plant essential oils as an alternative control for fruit diseases.