Expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in various stages of the Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric carcinogenesis pathway has not been elucidated. We investigated the distribution and intensity of COX-2 expression in premalignant and malignant gastric lesions, and monitored the changes after H. pylori eradication. Gastric biopsies from H. pylori-infected patients with chronic active gastritis, gastric atrophy, intestinal metaplasia (IM), gastric adenocarcinoma, and noninfected controls were studied. Expression of COX-2 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Endoscopic biopsies were repeated 1 year after successful eradication of H. pylori in a group of IM patients for comparing COX-2 expression and progression of IM. In all H. pylori-infected patients, COX-2 expression was predominantly found in the foveolar and glandular epithelium and, to a lesser extent, in the lamina propria. In the noninfected group, only 35% of cases demonstrated weak COX-2 expression. Intensity of COX-2 was not significantly different between the chronic active gastritis, gastric atrophy, IM, and gastric adenocarcinoma groups. In 17 patients with IM, COX-2 expressions in the epithelial cells and stromal cells were reduced 1 year after H. pylori eradication. However, the changes in COX-2 expression did not correlate with progression/regression of IM. Both premalignant and malignant gastric lesions demonstrate strong COX-2 expression. Successful eradication of H. pylori leads to down-regulation of COX-2 expression but failed to reverse IM at 1 year.