The phenol compositions of two cultivars of carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) namely "Gloriana" and "Roland", which are partially and highly resistant, respectively, to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi have been investigated with the aim of determining if endogenous phenols could have an anti-fungal effect against the pathogen. Analyses were performed on healthy and F. oxysporum-inoculated in vitro tissues, and on in vivo plants. Two benzoic acid derivatives, protocatechuic acid (3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid) and vanillic acid (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzoic acid), were found within healthy and inoculated tissues of both cultivars, together with the flavonol glycoside peltatoside (3-[6-O-(alpha-L-arabinopyranosyl)-beta-D-glucopyranosyl] quercetin). These molecules proved to be only slightly inhibitory towards the pathogen. 2,6-Dimethoxybenzoic acid was detected in small amounts only in the inoculated cultivar "Gloriana", while the highly resistant cultivar "Roland" showed the presence of the flavone datiscetin (3,5,7,2'-tetrahydroxyflavone). The latter compound exhibited an appreciable fungitoxic activity towards F. oxysporum f. sp. dianthi. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.