The intensive use of agrochemicals has played an important role in increasing agricultural production. One of the impacts of agrochemical use has been changes in population structure of soil microbiota. The aim of this work was to analyze the adaptive strategies that bacteria use to overcome oxidative stress caused by mesotrione, which inhibits 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase. We also examined antioxidative stress systems, saturation changes of lipid membranes, and the capacity of bacteria to degrade mesotrione. Escherichia coli DH5-á was chosen as a non-environmental strain, which is already a model bacterium for studying metabolism and adaptation. The results showed that this bacterium was able to tolerate high doses of the herbicide (10 x field rate), and completely degraded mesotrione after 3 h of exposure, as determined by a High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Growth rates in the presence of mesotrione were lower than in the control, prior to the period of degradation, showing toxic effects of this herbicide on bacterial cells. Changes in the saturation of the membrane lipids reduced the damage caused by reactive oxygen species and possibly hindered the entry of xenobiotics in the cell, while activating glutathione-S-transferase enzyme in the antioxidant system and in the metabolizing process of the herbicide. Considering that E. coli DH5-a is a non-environmental strain and it had no previous contact with mesotrione, the defense system found in this strain could be considered non-specific. This bacterium system response may be a general adaptation mechanism by which bacterial strains resist to damage from the presence of herbicides in agricultural soils.