Pantoprazole is an irreversible proton pump inhibitor which, at the therapeutic dose of 40mg, effectively reduces gastric acid secretion. In controlled clinical trials, pantoprazole (40mg once daily) has proved superior to ranitidine (300mg once daily or 150mg twice daily) and equivalent to omeprazole (20mg once daily) in the short term (< or = 8 weeks) treatment of acute peptic ulcer and reflux oesophagitis. Gastric and duodenal ulcer healing proceeded significantly faster with pantoprazole than with ranitidine, and at similar rates with pantoprazole and omeprazole. The time course of gastric ulcer pain relief was similar with pantoprazole, ranitidine and omeprazole, whereas duodenal ulcer pain was alleviated more rapidly with pantoprazole than ranitidine. Pantoprazole (40mg once daily) showed superior efficacy to famotidine (40mg once daily) in ulcer healing and pain relief after 2 weeks in patients with duodenal ulcer in a large multicentre nonblinded study. In mild to moderate acute reflux oesophagitis, significantly greater healing was obtained with pantoprazole than with ranitidine and famotidine, whereas similar healing rates were seen with pantoprazole and omeprazole. Pantoprazole showed a significant advantage over ranitidine in relieving symptoms of heartburn and acid regurgitation. Reflux symptoms were similarly alleviated by pantoprazole and omeprazole. Preliminary results indicate that triple therapy with pantoprazole, clarithromycin and either metronidazole or tinidazole is effective in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori-associated disease; however, these findings require confirmation in large well-controlled studies. Pantoprazole appears to be well tolerated during short term oral administration, with diarrhoea (1.5%), headache (1.3%), dizziness (0.7%), pruritus (0.5%) and skin rash (0.4%) representing the most frequent adverse events. The drug has lower affinity than omeprazole or lansoprazole for hepatic cytochrome P450 and shows no clinically relevant pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions at therapeutic doses with a wide range of drug substrates for this isoenzyme system. In conclusion, pantoprazole is superior to ranitidine and as effective as omeprazole in the short term treatment of peptic ulcer and reflux oesophagitis, has shown efficacy when combined with antibacterial agents in H. pylori eradication, is apparently well tolerated and offers the potential advantage of minimal risk of drug interaction.