We have evaluated gastric juice pH, nitrites and vitamin C levels, mucosal glutathione, and malondialdehyde, a marker of lipid peroxidation, in patients with chronic gastritis undergoing endoscopy. Patients had chronic gastritis with (n = 28) or without (n = 60) atrophy and/or concomitant Helicobacter pylori infection. Nineteen healthy subjects, without major macroscopic or histologic changes, were included as controls. Ten subjects were studied before and after H. pylori eradication. Vitamin C levels were low in atrophic gastritis (p < 0.006) and H. pylori infection (p < 0.02). Nitrite concentrations and pH were significantly higher in atrophy (p < 0.005 and 0.0001). Glutathione turnover was higher than normal in gastritis, with higher levels of oxidized glutathione (p < 0.02). Gastric malondialdehyde levels were significantly increased by gastritis (p < 0.05) and H. pylori infection (p < 0.05). Overall, more active gastritis coincided with lower vitamin C levels and higher malondialdehyde levels. After H. pylori eradication a drop in mucosal MDA levels was observed (p = 0.04). In summary, chronic gastritis and H. pylori infection correlate with increased free-radical production, reduced gastric vitamin C levels, and increased glutathione turnover. The possible implications of these changes in the pathogenesis of gastric damage and in carcinogenesis are intriguing.