Abstract An activated carbon fibre supporting silver (ACF(Ag)) was tested for its antibacterial capacity against Escherichia coli ( E. coli). Water that has passed through ACF(Ag) demonstrated strong bactericidal ability. This activity decreased over the time suggesting that generated bactericidal species were short lifespan. Since formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) might be catalysed by silver impregnated and/or ACF itself, implication of ROS and silver was evaluated by the use of ROS scavengers and a silver ions neutralizing agent. The role of ROS in the E. coli mortality was confirmed by the use of a molecular approach which revealed a strong expression of oxidative stress genes.