The essential oil and methyl ester of hexane extract of Salvia chionantha Boiss. were analysed by GC and GC-MS. Totally, 54 components were detected in the essential oil and all of them were fully determined. Germacrene D (25.03%), beta-caryophyllene (8.71%), spathulenol (5.86%) and a-humulene (4.82%) were identified as the major compounds. In the methylated hexane extract, 3-hydroxy hexadecanoic acid (39.39%), 3-hydroxy tetradecanoic acid (12.66%) and palmitic acid (12.02%) were the major fatty acids elucidated. The antioxidant activity of the essential oil and the hexane extract was determined by using four complementary test systems: namely, beta-carotene-linoleic acid, DPPH scavenging, ABTS scavenging, and CUPRAC assays. In beta-carotene-linoleic acid assay, the extract showed 81.2 +/- 0.1% lipid peroxidation inhibition at 0.8 mg/mL concentration, while in ABTS+ assay the essential oil exhibited 77.4 +/- 0.5% inhibition at same concentration. Since, acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes are taking place in pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, in vitro anticholinesterase activity of the essential oil and the extract was also studied spectrophotometrically. At 0.5 mg/mL concentration, the essential oil showed moderate acetylcholinesterase (56.7 +/- 1.9%) and butyrylcholinesterase (41.7 +/- 2.9%) inhibitory activity, while the extract was only exhibited activity (63.1 +/- 0.8%) against butyrylcholinesterase enzyme. Hence, the essential oil may be useful as a moderate anticholinesterase agent, particularly against acetylcholinesterase. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.