We enrolled five hundred twenty-one patients with atrophic gastritis and 769 controls in a case-control study of atrophic gastritis and Helicobacter pylori infection and lifestyle factors. The participants had no history of upper gastrointestinal surgery. They were selected from 1,395 adult (35 years or older) residents of a rural town in Kyoto prefecture who participated in an annual health examination in 1987. Atrophic gastritis was diagnosed on the basis of serum pepsinogen levels: pepsinogen I levels (< or = 70 ng/ml) and pepsinogen I/pepsinogen II ratios (< or = 3.0). The presence of immunoglobulin G antibodies to H. pylori indicated H. pylori infection. At the time of the health examination, participants were interviewed about daily lifestyle habits such as use of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages and consumption of green-yellow vegetables. Unconditional logistic regression analysis indicated that H. pylori infection was associated with a significantly increased risk for atrophic gastritis for all participants (odds ratio, 8.17; 95% confidence interval, 5.63-11.84); for men (odds ratio, 10.91; 95% CI, 5.25-22.67); and for women (odds ratio, 7.28; 95% CI, 4.72-11.22). We found no statistically significant relations between lifestyle factors and atrophic gastritis.