Molecular dynamics simulations of the magainin MG-H2 peptide interacting with a model phospholipid membrane have been used to investigate the mechanism by which antimicrobial peptides act. Multiple copies of the peptide were randomly placed in solution close to the membrane. The peptide readily bound to the membrane, and above a certain concentration, the peptide was observed to cooperatively induce the formation of a nanometer- sized, toroidally shaped pore in the bilayer. In sharp contrast with the commonly accepted model of a toroidal pore, only one peptide was typically found near the center of the pore. The remaining peptides lay close to the edge of the pore, maintaining a predominantly parallel orientation with respect to the membrane.