Gastric mucosal pepsinogen A phenotype, serum pepsinogen A level, serum pepsinogen C level, serum pepsinogen A/pepsinogen C ratio, and serum gastrin level were evaluated as potential markers for gastric cancer or its precursors in 19 healthy volunteers and 341 patients from the gastroscopy program. Gastric cancer, atrophic gastritis, and intestinal metaplasia of the stomach were associated with pepsinogen A phenotypes, characterized by an intense fraction 5, and with a low serum pepsinogen A level (less than 25 micrograms/l), a low serum pepsinogen A/pepsinogen C ratio (less than 1.5), and a high serum gastrin level (greater than 79 ng/l). The specificity of pepsinogen A phenotypes with an intense fraction 5 for gastric cancer or its precursors was 95.1% with a sensitivity of 20.4%. The sensitivity and specificity of the noninvasive tests were evaluated with the receiver operating characteristic. For clinical purposes, a serum pepsinogen A/pepsinogen C ratio less than 1.8 is the most suitable test, with a sensitivity of 74% and a specificity of 76% for gastric cancer or its precursors, with a reference population of patients with benign gastric disorders. However, the sensitivity and specificity of the single or combined tests are too low for population screening purposes.