Since Salvia species (Lamiaceae) have been recorded to be used against memory loss in European folk medicine, we herein examined in vitro anticholinesterase and antioxidant activities of 56 extracts prepared with petroleum ether, chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol obtained from 14 Salvia species (Salvia albimaculata Hedge and Hub, Salvia aucheri Bentham var. canescens Boiss and Heldr, Salvia candidissima Vahl. ssp. occidentalis, Salvia ceratophylla L., Salvia cryptantha Montbret and Bentham, Salvia cyanescens Boiss and Bal., Salvia frigida Boiss, Salvia forskahlei L., Salvia halophilaHedge, Salvia migrostegia Boiss and Bal., Salvia multicaulis Vahl., Salvia sclarea L., Salvia syriaca L., Salvia verticillata L. ssp. amasiaca) growing in Turkey. The antioxidant activities were assessed by both chemical and enzymatic methods against 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical-scavenging and xanthine/xanthine oxidase (XO) system generated superoxide anion radical inhibition. Anticholinesterase effect of the extracts was tested against both acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) at concentrations of 0.2 and 1 mg/ml using a microplate-reader assay based on the Ellman method. Most of the extracts did not show any activity against AChE at 0.2 mg/ml, while the chloroform extracts had noticeable inhibition against BChE between 47.7% and 74.7%. The most active extracts at I mg/ml for AChE inhibition were observed to be petroleum ether extract of Salvia albimaculata (89.4%) and chloroform extract of Salvia cyanescens (80.2%), whereas ethyl acetate extracts of Salvia frigida and Salvia migrostegia, chloroform extracts of Salvia candidissima ssp. occidentalis and Salvia ceratophylla, as well as petroleum ether extract of Salvia cyanescens were found to inhibit potently BChE (92.2%, 89.6%, 91.1%, 91.3%, and 91.8%, respectively). Particularly, the ethyl acetate and methanol extracts were observed to be highly active against both DPPH and XO. Our data indicates that nonpolar extracts of Salvia species for anticholinesterase activity and the polar extracts for antioxidant activity are worth further phytochemical evaluation for identifying their active components. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.