The aims of the present study were to investigate the ecological disturbances caused by four different anti-H. pylori regimens, to compare different methods for diagnosing H. pylori, and to study the genetic variability of H. pylori. The patients included in the study were all treated at the Center of Gastroenterology, Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institute. All patients were H. pylori-positive before entering the study, confirmed by rapid urease test, histology, culture and urea breath test or PCR. Treatment regimens included in the study were omeprazole alone (OP), in combination with amoxicillin (OA), in combination with amoxicillin and metronidazole (OAM) and in combination with clarithromycin and metronidazole (OCM). Samples from the mouth (saliva and dental plaque), stomach (biopsies from the gastric mucosa in the corpus and in the antrum) and the intestine (feces) were collected before, during and after treatment. The oral microflora was challenged by the three treatment regimens including antimicrobial agents, with the emergence of resistant streptococci and staphylococci in the OCM group. Bacterial strains in the gastric mucosa increased in numbers during treatment in all treatment groups, probably due to the pH rise, which provides a better environment for the commensal microflora. This overgrowth was especially pronounced during treatment with omeprazole alone (OP), possibly due to the fact that a concomitant suppression exerted by the antimicrobial agents occurred in the other treatment groups. H. pylori was, on the other hand, suppressed during treatment in all treatment groups, possibly due to a direct effect of omeprazole and to the colonization resistance expressed by the normal microflora, An emergence of resistant commensal strains in the gastric mucosa was seen in the OCM and the OAM groups. The intestinal microflora was most altered in the OAM and the OCM groups, with persistent disturbances in the OCM group 4 weeks after treatment. The frequency of resistant Enterococcus spp, (OCM), Enterobacteriaceae spp, (OA and OAM) and Bacteroides spp, (OCM) was increased during and after treatment. Different detection methods for H. pylori were compared and PCR was shown to have higher sensitivity than other routine diagnostic tests. The patients in the present study seemed to be colonized with a single strain of H. pylori. Treatment failures in patients treated with OAM were caused by recrudescence. These four patients with relapsing H. pylori infection, were shown to be reinfected with the original H. pylori strain, indicating that H. pylori escapes treatment by a thus far unknown mechanism.