The long-term benefits of Helicobacter pylori-eradication treatment (HET) in H pylori-associated duodenal ulcer are unclear. We followed up patients with duodenal ulcers from a trial of H pylori eradication in 1985-86. 63 of 78 patients (81%) were reviewed clinically and had upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with gastric antral biopsy. Of 35 patients previously rendered H pylori negative, 32 (92%) remained H pylori negative after 7.1 years (mean). All patients initially H pylori positive remained infected, unless HET was given in the interim. Duodenal ulceration was found in 20% (5 out of 25) of patients remaining H pylori-positive, compared with 3% (1 of 38) of H pylori-negative patients (p < 0.05). The reduction of duodenal ulcer relapse obtained from H pylori eradication in H pylori-associated duodenal ulcer extends to at least 7 years after treatment, and is likely to be due to freedom from H pylori infection. However, duodenal ulcer may recur in patients rendered H pylori negative, due to factors other than reinfection with H pylori.