The effects of lauric arginate (LAE) and nisin Z, alone or in combination, on cell damage were investigated against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Brochothrix thermosphacta, by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observations, efflux of potassium and phosphate ions, and growth inhibition. A combination of LAE with nisin Z caused severe and dramatic changes in the cytoplasmic membrane and cell lysis of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The combination treatment also caused significant potassium and phosphate ion leakage of E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes and B. thermosphacta, when compared with other treatments: 16.62±1.05, 50.35±0.81 and 45.47±1.15mg/L of potassium ion and 122.66±8.81, 97.96±3.31 and 26.47±13.97mg/L of phosphate ion after treatment for 6h, respectively. Bacteria were reduced by approximately 7log10CFU/mL within the first hour of treatment and then cells were unable to grow for the remainder of the experiment. Treatment with LAE alone resulted in changes in cellular morphology, coagulation of the cytoplasm, and low level leakage of potassium and phosphate ions in all bacteria tested. Treatment of L. monocytogenes and B. thermosphacta with nisin Z (320AU/mL of final concentration) resulted in the formation of membrane channels and leakage of potassium and phosphate ions at rather high levels; but the bacteriocin was not effective against E. coli O157:H7. LAE or nisin Z reduced growth of both L. monocytogenes and B. thermosphacta by approximately 7log10CFU/mL. Conversely, E. coli O157:H7 was not inhibited by treatments with nisin Z, but decreased by approximately 4.45log10CFU/mL after treatment with LAE. These findings provide additional information on the mode of action of these compounds on bacterial populations.