Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic, relapsing disease that can progress to major complications. Affected patients have poorer health-related quality of life than the general population. As GERD requires continued therapy to prevent relapse and complications, most patients with erosive esophagitis require long-term acid suppressive treatment. Thus GERD results in a significant cost burden and poor health-related quality of life. The effective treatment of GERD provides symptom resolution and high rates of remission in erosive esophagitis, lowers the incidence of GERD complications, improves health-related quality of life, and reduces the cost of this disease. Proton pump inhibitors are accepted as the most effective initial and maintenance treatment for GERD. Oral pantoprazole is a safe, well tolerated and effective initial and maintenance treatment for patients with nonerosive GERD or erosive esophagitis. Oral pantoprazole has greater efficacy than histamine H(2)-receptor antagonists and generally similar efficacy to other proton pump inhibitors for the initial and maintenance treatment of GERD. In addition, oral pantoprazole has been shown to improve the quality of life of patients with GERD and is associated with high levels of patient satisfaction with therapy. GERD appears to be more common and more severe in the elderly, and pantoprazole has shown to be an effective treatment for this at-risk population.