Ionic liquids (ILs) are important for their antimicrobial activity and are found to be toxic to some microorganisms. To shed light on the mechanism of their activities, the interaction of an imidazolium-based IL 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrfluoroborate ([BMIM][BF4]) with E. coli bacteria and cell-membrane-mimicking lipid mono- and bilayers has been studied. The survival of the bacteria and corresponding growth inhibition are observed to be functions of the concentration of the IL. The IL alters the pressure-area isotherm of the monolayer formed at an air-water interface by the 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) lipid. The in-plane elasticity of the lipid layer is reduced as a consequence of the insertion of this IL. The X-ray reflectivity study from a polymer-supported lipid bilayer shows strong perturbation in the self-assembled structure of the bilayer due to the interaction. As a consequence, there is a considerable decrease in bilayer thickness and a corresponding increase in electron density. These results, however, depend on the chain configurations of the lipid molecules. © 2017 American Chemical Society.