In intact rats plasma gastrin levels were increased during a 20-wk treatment course with either omeprazole or ranitidine. Although plasma gastrin levels were the same during treatment, the enterochromaffinlike (ECL) cell density increased approximately linearly with time at a rate correlated to the plasma gastrin level. Antrectomy prevented the ECL cell hyperplasia seen in omeprazole-treated rats, suggesting that it was not caused by omeprazole per se. Changes in ECL cell density roughly paralleled changes in oxyntic mucosal histidine carboxylase activity and histamine concentration. Treatment with omeprazole also raised stomach weight and antral gastrin and gastrin cell density, reduced antral somatostatin cell density, but did not affect enterochromaffin cell density. Within 19 days of cessation of a 10-wk treatment course, plasma gastrin levels, oxyntic mucosal histidine decarboxylase activity, and antral gastrin and somatostatin cell densities had returned to control levels. The stomach weight was normal within 5-10 wk, antral gastrin concentration within 10 wk, and oxyntic mucosal ECL cell density and histamine concentration within 20 wk. After renewed treatment with omeprazole for 10 wk starting 10 wk after completion of the first omeprazole treatment period, changes in all parameters were of similar magnitude in animals previously treated with omeprazole and those previously treated with vehicle. The results suggest that the effects described are reversible and that gastrin cells turn over more rapidly than ECL cells.