Bacterial surface layers (S-layers) are extracellular protein networks that act as molecular sieves and protect a large variety of archaea and bacteria from hostile environments. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to asses the S-layer of Coryne-bacterium glutamicum formed of PS2 proteins that assemble into hexameric complexes within a hexagonal lattice. Native and trypsin-treated S-layers were studied. Using the AFM stylus as a nanodissector, native arrays that adsorbed to mica as double layers were separated. All surfaces of native and protease-digested S-layers were imaged at better than 1 nm lateral resolution. Difference maps of the topographies of native and proteolysed samples revealed the location of the cleaved C-terminal fragment and the sidedness of the S-layer. Because the corrugation depths determined from images of both sides span the total thickness of the S-layer, a three-dimensional reconstruction of the S-layer could be calculated. Lattice defects visualized at 1 nm resolution revealed the molecular boundaries of PS2 proteins. The combination of AFM imaging and single molecule force spectroscopy allowed the mechanical properties of the Corynebacterium glutamicum S-layer to be examined. The results provide a basis for understanding the amazing stability of this protective bacterial surface coat.