Pyrolysis of wood and wood-based wastes is considered to be one of the promising methods of supplying charcoal as solid material and liquids containing a number of valuable chemicals. In this study, we characterized the chemical components in the liquids from pyrolysis of solid wood and wood-based composites such as particleboard, plywood and medium density fiberboard (MDF) with phenol or urea-type adhesive. In addition, the effectiveness of the liquids to control fungal growth in vitro was examined with consideration of the bioactive components included in the liquids. Results showed that the chemical composition of the liquids obtained from solid wood were greatly different from those obtained from the composites. Fungicidal tests showed a significant difference in the effectiveness of controlling fungi between solid wood and the composites and the liquids from the composites revealed higher effectiveness against the fungi tested. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.