Colonization of the gastric antrum by Helicobacter pylori (formerly Campylobacter pylori) has been associated with primary gastritis. We determined the frequency of colonization by H. pylori in gastric-antrum biopsy specimens from 93 children undergoing gastroscopy for the evaluation of upper gastrointestinal symptoms. We also determined H. pylori IgG antibody levels by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in coded serum samples from these children, family members, and control subjects of comparable ages. Among 27 children with primary, or unexplained, gastritis, H. pylori was identified by silver staining in 24 biopsy specimens and by culture in 22; specific antibodies were present in 23 children (96 percent). Three children with unexplained gastritis had no evidence of H. pylori in the antrum, nor did any of 13 children with secondary gastritis or any of 53 children with normal antral histologic features; specific antibodies were present in only 1 of these 69 children. H. pylori antibody was detected in 25 of 34 parents of colonized children, but in only 8 of 33 parents of noncolonized children (P less than 0.001). Of 22 siblings of children colonized by H. pylori, 18 had specific antibodies, as compared with only 5 of 37 controls (P less than 0.001). We conclude that H. pylori-specific IgG antibodies are associated with bacterial colonization of the gastric antrum by this organism. The intrafamilial clustering of H. pylori infection suggests that there may be person-to-person spread of these bacteria.