We investigated the effect of disorder on the spectral properties of the high temperature superconductor Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+x. We find that small defect densities, in the low 10(-3) range, already suppress the characteristic spectral signature of the superconducting state, while new excitations appear within the gap. We conclude that, due to defect-induced pair breaking, superconducting pairs and normal carriers coexist below T-c. At higher levels of disorder the normal state is also strongly affected, and the quasiparticle features progressively smeared out.