Helicobacter pylori is arguably the commonest chronic infection in man. However, its route of transmission is unknown. We have isolated viable H pylori from the faeces of an infected individual from The Gambia. The organism was cultured on selective media after concentration of faecal bacteria by centrifugation in a buffer equilibrated with a microaerophilic gas mixture. Growth characteristics, microscopic appearances, and enzyme activities were the same as those of a typical gastric isolate of H pylori. Protein preparations derived from the new isolate and the typical strain were antigenically similar, and had very similar electrophoretic profiles (including two major protein bands of 62 and 26 kDa, corresponding to the urease enzyme subunits). With the same technique, organisms with the colony morphology, growth requirements, enzyme activities, and microscopic appearances of H pylori were isolated from the faeces of 9 of 23 randomly selected children aged 3-27 months from a Gambian village with a high prevalence of H pylori infection in early life. Faecal-oral transmission is probably important in the spread of infection in such communities.