The gastric H+/K(+)-ATPase has been implicated as a major autoantigen in pernicious anaemia in humans and in thymectomy-induced autoimmune gastritis in mice. Here we have shown that autoimmune gastritis can be generated by direct immunization of non-thymectomized BALB/c mice with mouse gastric H+/K(+)-ATPase in complete Freund's adjuvant. The gastritis was characterized by infiltration of the gastric submucosa and mucosa with macrophages, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and B cells and by circulating autoantibodies to the H+/K(+)-ATPase. The mononuclear infiltrate within the gastric mucosa was accompanied by loss of parietal and zymogenic cells and accumulation of small immature epithelial cells. Splenocytes from gastritic mice adoptively transferred gastritis to naive recipients. Cessation of immunization resulted in decrease in autoantibody titre and regeneration of parietal and zymogenic cells. The results directly confirm that the gastric H+/K(+)-ATPase is the causative autoantigen in the genesis of autoimmune gastritis. Recovery of the lesion following cessation of immunization suggests that homeostatic mechanisms can reverse a destructive autoimmune process.