In ancient times, Hippocrates used to visit Farmakonisi to gather pharmaceutical herbs. Plutarch in his Parallel Lives tells that the young Julius Caesar while traveling to Asia Minor, was kidnapped by pirates and held prisoner there 38 days. During his imprisonment, he promised them that, if he were freed, he would have all of them killed. After having paid a ransom twice as high as his kidnappers claimed (since he said that the required amount was too low for someone like himself), and having been freed, he organized a fleet and maintained his promise, crucifying all of them.
In modern times, the islet -dependent from Leros- was occupied in 1912 by the Kingdom of Italy during the Italo-Turkish war and, after being part of the Italian Islands of the Aegean, was ceded from Italy to Greece in 1947.
Farmakonisi was notable since the ancient times for its very rich flora with several species of herbs growing on the island's surface. The flora is dominated by cedar, while cereals were growing in the small plateau of the island in past times.