Campylobacter pyloridis was cultured for maximal growth in liquid medium, and effects of exposure to various beta-lactam and macrolide antibiotics, metronidazole, tripotassium dicitrato bismuthane (TDB) and cimetidine were monitored by transmission electronmicroscopy after periods of exposure up to 24 h. With amoxycillin and benzylpenicillin (0.12-1 mg/L) and cephalexin (2 mg/L) the normal bacilliform morphology was replaced by bulging and dumb-bell-like profiles showing cell-wall blebbing and vesiculation, and eventually by swollen forms with incomplete cell walls undergoing lysis. These changes developed progressively between 2 h and 24 h and were accelerated at the higher antibiotic concentrations. Erythromycin and clindamycin caused central clearing, ribosomal coagulation and impaired cross-wall formation. There were no gross structural changes in the presence of metronidazole (4 mg/L), TDB (1000 and 2400 mg/L) or cimetidine (1000 and 2000 mg/L); but with TDB focal accumulation of particulate bismuth complex was detected under the cell wall, affecting nearly all organisms by 24 h. In parallel viability tests, metronidazole and TDB both showed bactericidal activity, but cimetidine did not. These findings support the clinical experience that favours combination therapy with bismuth plus an appropriate systemic antibiotic as the regimen of choice for effective clearance of the organisms in C. pyloridis-associated gastritis.