In order to produce powder samples of Zn-doped MgO, the precursors, MgO and ZnO, were mixed in a molar ratio higher than 1.86 and subsequently treated at 1200 A degrees C for 5 h in air atmosphere. With increasing Zn content in MgO, the lattice constant increased linearly, and the optical absorption intensity increased in the wavelength ranging from 200 to 400 nm. Antibacterial activity of the obtained powder samples was examined by colony count method using Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. In the antibacterial tests, it was found that the antibacterial activity enhanced with increasing Zn content in MgO. Antibacterial action toward S. aureus was greater than that toward E. coli, irrespective of the Zn content in MgO. From these results, the enhancement of the antibacterial activity could be related with the optical absorption of Zn-doped MgO.