Three hundred and seventy-seven subjects with different conditions of the gastric body mucosa have been followed up for 30-34 years, first by the 'blind' suction biopsy method and since 1973-1976 by the direct-vision endoscopic method. Body gastritis revealed a distinct worsening trend during the whole follow-up period. However, during the last follow-up period some slowing down of the process was also discernible. In the antrum there was a distinct healing trend during that period. Thus all cases of distinct atrophic gastritis limited to the antrum and found at the re-examination in 1973-1976 had disappeared during the last follow-up period owing to regression of the antral or continuation of the body process. On the other hand, a considerable proportion of cases of diffuse antrofundal atrophic gastritis found in 1973-1976 appeared in 1983-1984 in the 'pure' body atrophic gastritis group, obviously due to regression of the antral process. This indicates the existence of an alternative pathway via diffuse antrofundal atrophic gastritis for the development of atrophic gastritis limited to the body area. The occurrence of parietal cell antibodies was on the whole a poor indicator of the progression of atrophic gastritis. However, the development of the end-stage (severe) atrophic gastritis was significantly associated with their presence. Atrophic changes of the body mucosa were not found in 1983-1984 in any cases of duodenal ulcer disease, whereas in patients with gastric polyps atrophic gastritis affecting only the body was, as a rule, present. No case of gastric carcinoma was detected during the last follow-up examination.