The herb and fruits of Leonurus japonicus Houtt., named "Yimucao" and "Chongweizi", respectively, in Chinese, have been widely used in China as gynecological medicines. The components of the essential oils obtained by hydrodistillation were investigated by GC-MS. The antibacterial activity of the essential oils was determined by micro-dilution assay. The results showed large variations in the chemical composition and antibacterial activity of the oils. The oil of "Yimucao" showed antibacterial activity against various Gram-positive bacteria and consisted mainly of sesquiterpenes and diterpenes, with phytone, phytol, caryophyllene oxide and β-caryophyllene being the most significant constituents, whereas the oil of "Chongweizi", mainly made up of bornyl acetate and aliphatic hydrocarbons, was inactive in the antibacterial assay. Further study of the main compounds in "Yimucao oil" showed that β-caryophyllene had wide-spectrum activity against Gram-positive bacteria.