Seventeen of 37 healthy volunteers participating in studies of acid secretion and 1 patient with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome became rapidly and profoundly hypochlorhydric. A mild illness with epigastric pain occurred in 9 subjects, usually several days before detection of hypochlorhydria. Gastric mucosal biopsy specimens taken from subjects during hypochlorhydria revealed severe fundal and antral gastritis; however, even when acid secretion was severely depressed, parietal cells were abundant and appeared normal histologically. During hypochlorhydria, gastric permeability to hydrogen, sodium, and lithium was normal in 4 subjects. Serum gastrin concentrations were usually normal, whereas serum pepsinogen concentrations were invariably elevated. Serum parietal cell antibodies were not present. Acid secretion returned to near baseline levels in 14 of 17 subjects after a mean of 126 days (range 53--235); severity of gastritis diminished concurrently in 7 of 10 subjects on whom biopsies were serially performed. An infectious etiology is suspected, although serologic studies and bacterial and conventional viral cultures of stool and gastric juice have not identified a candidate agent.