Studies with the mouse-adapted Helicobacter pylori strain SS1 had supported an idea that infections by this pathogen start in the gastric antrum and spread to the corpus after extensive mucosal damage. This paper shows that the unrelated strain X47 colonizes the corpus preferentially. Differences between strains in preferred gastric region were detected by co-inoculating mice with a mixture of SS1 and X47, and genotyping H. pylori recovered after 2-8 weeks of infection by vacA s allele PCR and RAPD fingerprinting. Mixed infections were found in each of 59 co-inoculated young C57BL/6J mice. On average, however, SS1 was fourfold more abundant than X47 in the antrum and X47 was threefold more abundant than SS1 in the corpus. Similar results were obtained in mice inoculated first with one strain and then the other strain 2 weeks later. SS1 was even more abundant in the antrum of elderly (>1 year old) mice (97 % of isolates). Qualitatively similar SS1 and X47 tissue distributions were seen using unrelated mouse lines (AKR/J, A/J, DBA/2J, BALB/cJ, LG/J, SM/J), but with significantly different SS1 : X47 ratios in some cases. These results suggest the existence of at least two distinct gastric niches whose characteristics may be affected by host genotype and age (physiology), and indicate that strains differ in how effectively they colonize each niche. Differences among gastric regions and the mixed infections that these allow may contribute to H. pylori diversity and genome evolution.