Helicobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that resides under microaerobic conditions in a neutral microenvironment between the mucus and the superficial epithelium of the stomach. From this site, it stimulates cytokine production by epithelial cells that recruit and activate immune and inflammatory cells in the underlying lamina propria, causing chronic, active gastritis. Although epidemiological evidence shows that infection generally occurs in children, the inflammatory changes progress throughout life. H. pylori has also been recognized as a pathogen that causes gastroduodenal ulcers and gastric cancer. These more severe manifestations of the infection usually occur later in life and in a minority of infected subjects. To intervene and protect those who might be at greatest risk of the more severe disease outcomes, it is of great interest to determine whether bacterial, host, or environmental factors can be used to predict these events. To date, several epidemiological studies have attempted to define the factors affecting the transmission of H. pylori and the expression of gastroduodenal disease caused by this infection. Many other laboratories have focused on identifying bacterial factors that explain the variable expression of clinical disease associated with this infection. An alternative hypothesis is that microorganisms that cause lifelong infections can ill afford to express virulence factors that directly cause disease, because the risk of losing the host is too great. Rather, we propose that gastroduodenal disease associated with H. pylori infection is predominantly a result of inappropriately regulated gastric immune responses to the infection. In this model, the interactions between the immune/inflammatory response, gastric physiology, and host repair mechanisms would dictate the disease outcome in response to infection.