The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori and its relationship with different epidemiological factors in an Anglo-Celtic Australian population in the Melbourne urban area. Two hundred and seventy-three (120 men and 153 women with a mean age of 55.6 and range of 20 to 80 years) of 396 eligible subjects randomly sampled from the telephone directory were studied. An ELISA technique was used to detect H. pylori immunoglobulin (Ig)G antibody and self-administered questionnaires were completed. The overall seroprevalence of H. pylori was 38% and increased with age from 18% (20-30 years old) to 53% (over 70 years; P < 0.0001). The acquisition of H. pylori infection was 1% per year. The prevalence of H. pylori was 48% in men and 30% in women (P < 0.01). The frequency of H. pylori was also associated with low-income levels and current smoking, but was not associated with peptic ulcer disease history. The prevalence of H. pylori infection in a representative Australian population was found to be similar to other developed countries. The risk factors for H. pylori infection include age, male sex, low household income and a smoking habit. No correlation between H. pylori status and dyspepsia symptoms were observed.