There is a clear relationship between Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and between Helicobacter pylori and gastric cancer, but the histogenesis of cardiac adenocarcinomas is unknown. Some clues as to possible disease associations may be provided by the pattern of gastritis. In our study, we analysed gastritis associated with oesophageal, cardiac and gastric adenocarcinomas according to the Sydney classification. Chronic gastritis was more common in gastric (88%) than in cardiac (56%) and oesophageal adenocarcinomas (38%). H. pylori was significantly more prevalent in gastric (73%) than in cardiac (34%) or oesophageal (21%) adenocarcinomas. Our results show that factors other than H. pylori must be involved in the histogenesis of cardiac adenocarcinomas. As the pattern of gastritis and the clinical features of cardiac adenocarcinomas are more comparable to oesophageal carcinomas than gastric carcinomas, we speculate that most of these tumours share similar aetiological factors with oesophageal carcinomas.