Evidence is reviewed that Helicobacter pylori infection may cause a deficiency of the hormone secretin that allows peptic ulcer disease to develop by impairing the body's defenses to gastric acid. Secretin is released into the circulation from the S-cells of the duodenal crypts in response to gastric acid entering the duodenum. Once in the circulation, secretin has five well-documented effects that protect the upper intestine from gastric acid: it stimulates secretion of bicarbonate rich exocrine pancreatic juice; it stimulates secretion of alkaline bile; it stimulates secretion of alkaline mucus from the duodenal submucosal glands of Brunner; it inhibits the humoral phase of gastric secretion; and it inhibits gastric motility, thereby delaying gastric emptying. Impaired secretin release and reduced duodenal S-cells have been documented in peptic ulcer patients compared with control patients. Clinical evidence that patients with H. pylori infection and peptic ulceration have increased gastric secretion and motility and decreased duodenal bicarbonate response to gastric acid, all of which normalize after eradication of the infection, could be explained by reversible impairment of the secretin mechanism. Gastric metaplasia in the duodenum with H. pylori infection is known to reduce the S-cell population. The fact that not all patients with H. pylori infection develop peptic ulceration suggests that degree of secretin deficiency determined by extent of the infection must reach a critical level for peptic ulceration to occur. Peptic ulceration may be a hormonal deficiency disease, a result of secretin deficiency caused by H. pylori infection. It may be the first example of a specific hormonal deficiency disease caused by a specific bacterial infection.