Infection by Helicobacter pylori has been ascertained to be an important etiologic impetus leading usually to chronic active gastritis and gastric ulcer with growing incidences worldwide. Utilizing as the test pathogen a standard and five clinic strains of Helicobacter pylori, the antibacterial action was assessed in vitro with ethanol extracts of 30 Chinese herbal medicines which have been frequently prescribed since ancient times for treating gastritis-like disorders. Among the 30 tested materials, the ethanol extracts of Abrus cantoniensis (Fabaceae), Saussurea lappa (Asteraceae) and Eugenia caryophyllata (Myrtaceae) were strongly inhibitory to all test strains (MICs: approximately 40 microg/ml), and Hippophae rhamnoides (Elaeagnaceae), Fritillaria thunbergii (Liliaceae), Magnolia officinalis and Schisandra chinensis (Magnoliaceae), Corydalis yanhusuo (Papaveraceae), Citrus reticulata (Rutaceae), Bupleurum chinense and Ligusticum chuanxiong (Apiaceae) substantially active with MICs close to 60.0 microg/ml. As to antibacterial actions of the aqueous extracts of the same drugs, those derived from Cassia obtusifolia (Fabaceae), Fritillaria thunbergii and Eugenia caryophyllata were remarkably inhibitory against all the six Helicobacter pylori strains (MICs: approximately 60 microg/ml). The work compared almost quantitatively the magnitude of the anti-Helicobacter pylori actions of the 30 most prescribed gastritis-treating Chinese herbal drugs, and located as well some source plants where potent anti-Helicobacter pylori phytochemicals could be characterized.