Abstract Volatile oils of two varieties of asafoetida (Ferula asafoetida), namely Pathani and Irani, isolated by hydrodistillation were studied for their antimicrobial properties against various foodborne bacterial and fungal organisms. Pathani was more effective against bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis with 18 mm and 28 mm zone of inhibition, respectively. Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) for both E. coli and B. subtilis was about 5 ppm. Volatile oil of Irani showed 75 and 70% inhibition of growth of Penicillium chrysogenum and Aspergillus ochraceus respectively whereas volatile oil of Pathani exhibited 49 and 45% inhibition. The major compounds identified in Pathani volatile oil are (E)-1- propenyl sec-butyl disulphide (56%), 1-(1- propenylthio) propyl methyl disulfide (16.9%) and 1,2- dithiolane (5.7%) using GC–MS analysis. Irani volatile oil showed the presence of (Z)-1- propenyl sec-butyl disulfide (14.4%), (E)-1- propenyl sec-butyl disulfide (28.8%) and 1-(1- propenythio) propyl methyl disulfide (10.1%) as the major compounds. The presence of various volatile compounds among the varieties of asafoetida is demonstrated well in this study. Thus, it can be concluded that Pathani oil was found to be a good antibacterial agent while Irani oil a fungicidal agent.