The relationship between membrane permeability, changes in ultrastructure, and inactivation in Escherichia coli strain K-12TG1 cells subjected to high hydrostatic pressure treatment at room and subzero temperatures was studied. Propidium iodide staining performed before and after pressure treatment made it possible to distinguish between reversible and irreversible pressure-mediated cell membrane permeabilization. Changes in cell ultrastructure were studied using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which showed noticeable condensation of nucleoids and aggregation of cytosolic proteins in cells fixed after decompression. A novel technique used to mix fixation reagents with the cell suspension in situ under high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) and subzero-temperature conditions made it possible to show the partial reversibility of pressure-induced nucleoid condensation. However, based on visual examination of TEM micrographs, protein aggregation did not seem to be reversible. Reversible cell membrane permeabilization was noticeable, particularly for HHP treatments at subzero temperature. A correlation between membrane permeabilization and cell inactivation was established, suggesting different mechanisms at room and subzero temperatures. We propose that the inactivation of E. coli cells under combined HHP and subzero temperature occurs mainly during their transiently permeabilized state, whereas HHP inactivation at room temperature is related to a balance of transient and permanent permeabilization. The correlation between TEM results and cell inactivation was not absolute. Further work is required to elucidate the effects of pressure-induced damage on nucleoids and proteins during cell inactivation.