Antibiotics have been effective in treating infectious diseases, but resistance to these drugs has led to the emergence of new and the reemergence of old infectious diseases. One strategy employed to overcome these resistance mechanisms is the use of combination of drugs, such as β-lactams together with β-lactamase inhibitors. Several plant extracts have exhibited synergistic activity against microorganisms. This review describes in detail, the observed synergy and mechanism of action between natural products including flavonoids and essential oils and synthetic drugs in effectively combating bacterial, fungal and mycobacterial infections. The mode of action of combination differs significantly than that of the same drugs acting individually; hence isolating a single component may lose its importance thereby simplifying the task of pharma industries. © 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.