Helicobacter pylori infection outcome might depend on genotypic polymorphisms of both the bacterium and the host. We ascertained: (1) the functionality of H. pylori oipA gene; (2) the polymorphism of the hostinterleukin (IL-1beta) gene (-31 C/T) and of the IL-1RN gene (intron 2 VNTR); (3) the association between the above genes and the histological and pathological outcome of H. pylori infection. One hundred and sixty-five H. pylori positive and 137 H. pylori negative subjects (23 gastric adenocarcinoma, 58 peptic ulcer, 221 gastritis) were studied. oipA was sequenced, IL-1beta was RFLP analysed. Antral and body mucosal biopsies were histologically evaluated. Functional oipA genes were correlated with cagA gene; both genes were significantly associated with gastritis activity, peptic ulcer and gastric adenocarcinoma. In these patients heterozygousIL-1RN 1/2 and IL-1beta C/T genotypes were more frequent than in gastritis patients. Intestinal metaplasia was associated with cagA, functional oipA and IL-1RN 2 allele. In conclusion, peptic ulcer and the preneoplastic intestinal metaplasia are associated with H. pylori virulence genes and with IL-1RN 2 host allele. An interplay between bacterial virulence factors and cytokines genotypes, is probably the main route causing H. pylori infection to lead to benign mild disease, benign severe disease or preneoplastic lesions.