Background Achlorhydria caused by e.g. atrophic gastritis allows for bacterial overgrowth, which induces chronic inflammation and damage to the mucosal cells of infected individuals driving gastric malignancies and cancer. Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis) can colonize achlohydric stomachs and we therefore wanted to study the impact of E. faecalis infection on inflammatory response, reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, mitochondrial respiration, and mitochondrial genetic stability in gastric mucosal cells. Methods To separate the changes induced by bacteria from those of the inflammatory cells we established an in vitro E. faecalis infection model system using the gastric carcinoma cell line MKN74. Total ROS and superoxide was measured by fluorescence microscopy. Cellular oxygen consumption was characterized non-invasively using XF24 microplate based respirometry. Gene expression was examined by microarray, and response pathways were identified by Gene Set Analysis (GSA). Selected gene transcripts were verified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Mitochondrial mutations were determined by sequencing. Results Infection of MKN74 cells with E. faecalis induced intracellular ROS production through a pathway independent of oxidative phosphorylation (oxphos). Furthermore, E. faecalis infection induced mitochondrial DNA instability. Following infection, genes coding for inflammatory response proteins were transcriptionally up-regulated while DNA damage repair and cell cycle control genes were down-regulated. Cell growth slowed down when infected with viable E. faecalis and responded in a dose dependent manner to E. faecalis lysate. Conclusions Infection by E. faecalis induced an oxphos-independent intracellular ROS response and damaged the mitochondrial genome in gastric cell culture. Finally the bacteria induced an NF-κB inflammatory response as well as impaired DNA damage response and cell cycle control gene expression.