Helicobacter pylori is involved in the pathogenesis of lymphoma of the gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). Because gastric MALT lymphoma is a rare disease, few studies comparing the accuracy of diagnostic tests in this group of patients have been carried out, and only a limited number of tests (essentially histological) were performed. The aim of our study was to compare the results of four different diagnostic methods used to detect H. pylori (histology, culture, polymerase chain reaction, and serology) in a prospective multicenter study. A patient was considered to be H. pylori positive if culture or histology was positive. During the period 1995-2000, a total of 90 patients with low-grade gastric MALT lymphoma were enrolled. Results for the four tests were available for 56 patients (62.2%). Among these patients, the four tests were concordant in 35 cases (62.5%), i.e., were positive in 19 cases (33.9%) and negative in 16 patients (17.8%). Histology (39/40 positive, 97.5%) and serology (38/40 positive, 95.0%) were the most sensitive tests. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and culture were positive in 52.5% and 50%, respectively. The cagA gene was detected in 47.4% of the strains.