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Atmospheric cold plasma (ACP) inactivation of Lentilactobacillus hilgardii was investigated. Bacteria were exposed to ACP dielectric barrier discharge with helium and oxygen as working gases for 5, 10, and 15 min. The innovative approach in our work for evaluation of bacterial survival was the use in addition to the classical plate culture method also flow cytometry which allowed the cells to be sorted and revealed different physiological states after the plasma treatment. Results showed total inhibition of bacterial growth after 10-min of ACP exposure. However, the analysis of flow cytometry demonstrated the presence of 14.4% of active cells 77.5% of cells in the mid-active state and 8.1% of dead cells after 10 min. In addition, some of the cells in the mid-active state showed the ability to grow again on culture medium, thus confirming the hypothesis of induction of VBNC state in L .hilgardii cells by cold plasma. In turn, atomic force microscopy (AFM) which was used to study morphological changes in L. hilgardii after plasma treatment at particular physiological states (active, mid-active, dead), showed that the surface roughness of the mid-active cell (2.70 ± 0.75 nm) was similar to that of the control sample (2.04 ± 0.55 nm). The lack of considerable changes on the cell surface additionally explains the effective cell resuscitation. To the best of our knowledge, AFM was used for the first time in this work to analyze cells which have been sorted into subpopulations after cold plasma treatment and this is the first work indicating the induction of VBNC state in L. hilgardii cells after exposure to cold plasma.