C12H20N6NiO6S2 or NiL2(SCN)2](NH4)2.2H2O, where L is 2-hydroxy-pyridine-N-oxide, has been prepared and characterized using elemental analyses, IR, UV and visible spectrometry, magnetic moment measurements, thermal analyses and single crystal X-ray analyis. The results indicate that the complex reacts as a bidentate ligand and is bound to the metal ion via the two oxygen atoms of the ligand (HL). The activation energies, ∆E*, entropies ∆S*, enthalpies ∆H* and order of reactions have been derived from differential thermo-gravimetric (DTA) curves. Based on inhibition zone diameter measurements, the complex exhibited significant antibacterial activity against both Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. It also exhibited significant antifungal activity against Candida albicans, but no activity was found against Aspergillus flavus. The crystal structure of the Ni(II) complex [C12 H20 N6 Ni O6 S2], Mr = 467.17, was determined from Cu Kα X-ray diffraction data, λ = 1.54178 Å, at 100 K using direct methods. The crystals are monoclinic, space group P21/n with Z = 4 and a = 8.9893(2) Å, b = 17.6680(5) Å, c = 12.5665(3) Å, β = 108.609(1)°. In parallel with this study corresponding results were derived for the crystal structure determined independently from synchrotron X-ray diffraction data, λ = 0.61990 Å, at 100 K. The unit cell parameters derived in this experiment are a = 9.000(2) Å, b = 17.700(4) Å, c = 12.590(3) Å, β = 108.61(3)°. Both studies show 4 O and 2 N atoms coordinating Ni in a distorted octahedral arrangement. Each of the Ni 2-hydroxy-pyridinium-N-oxide moieties is highly planar and the S=C=N-Ni ligands are approximately linear. The crystal structure is characterised by a number of strong hydrogen bonds.