Helicobacter pylori is one of the most common bacterial pathogens, infecting about 50% of the world population. The presence of a pathogenicity island (PAI) in H. pylori has been associated with gastric disease. We present evidence that the H. pylori protein encoded by the cytotoxin-associated gene A (cagA) is translocated and phosphorylated in infected epithelial cells. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) of proteins isolated from infected AGS cells revealed H. pylori strain-specific and time-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of several 125-135 kDa and 75-80 kDa proteins. Immunoblotting studies, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS), cell fractionation and confocal microscopy demonstrated that one of the 125-135 kDa proteins represents the H. pylori CagA protein, which is translocated into the host cell membrane and the cytoplasm. Translocation of CagA was dependent on functional cagA gene and virulence (vir) genes of a type IV secretion apparatus composed of virB4, virB7, virB10, virB11 and virD4 encoded in the cag PAI of H. pylori. Our findings support the view that H. pylori actively translocates virulence determinants, including CagA, which could be involved in the development of a variety of gastric disease.