Sorbic acid (SA) is widely used as a preservative, but the effect of SA on spore germination and outgrowth has gained limited attention up to now. Therefore, the effect of sorbic acid on germination of spores of B. cereus strain ATCC 14579 was analyzed both at phenotype and transcriptome level. Spore germination and outgrowth was assessed at pH 5.5 without and with 0.75, 1.5 and 3.0mM (final concentrations) undissociated sorbic acid (HSA). This resulted in distinct HSA concentration-dependent phenotypes, varying from delays in germination and outgrowth to complete blockage of germination at 3.0mM HSA. The phenotypes reflecting different stages in the germination process could be confirmed using flow cytometry and could be recognized at transcriptome level by distinct expression profiles. In the absence and presence of 0.75 and 1.5mM HSA, similar cellular ATP levels were found up to the initial stage of outgrowth, suggesting that HSA-induced inhibition of outgrowth is not caused by depletion of ATP. Transcriptome analysis revealed the presence of a limited number of transcripts in dormant spores, outgrowth related expression, and genes specifically associated with sorbic acid stress, including alterations in cell envelope and multi-drug resistance. The potential role of these HSA-stress associated genes in spore outgrowth is discussed.