Intense but short electrical fields can increase the permeability of the cell membrane in a process referred to as electroporation. Reversible electroporation has become an important tool in biotechnology and medicine. The various applications of reversible electroporation require cells to survive the procedure, and therefore the occurrence of irreversible electroporation (IRE), following which cells die, is obviously undesirable. However, for the past few years, IRE has begun to emerge as an important minimally invasive nonthermal ablation technique in its own right as a method to treat tumors and arrhythmogenic regions in the heart. IRE had been studied primarily to define the upper limit of electrical parameters that induce reversible electroporation. Thus, the delineation of IRE from thermal damage due to Joule heating has not been thoroughly investigated. The goal of this study was to express the upper bound of IRE (onset of thermal damage) theoretically as a function of physical properties and electrical pulse parameters. Electrical pulses were applied to THP-1 human monocyte cells, and the percentage of irreversibly electroporated (dead) cells in the sample was quantified. We also determined the upper bound of IRE (onset of thermal damage) through a theoretical calculation that takes into account the physical properties of the sample and the electric pulse characteristics. Our experimental results were achieved below the theoretical curve for the onset of thermal damage. These results confirm that the region to induce IRE without thermal damage is substantial. We believe that our new theoretical analysis will allow researchers to optimize IRE parameters without inducing deleterious thermal effects.