Evidence from Europe, Asia, and North America suggests that standard three-drug regimens of a proton-pump inhibitor plus amoxicillin and clarithromycin are significantly less effective for eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection than are 5-day concomitant and 10-day sequential four-drug regimens that include a nitroimidazole. These four-drug regimens also entail fewer antibiotic doses than do three-drug regimens and thus could be suitable for eradication programmes in low-resource settings. Few studies in Latin America have been done, where the burden of H pylori-associated diseases is high. We therefore did a randomised trial in Latin America comparing the effectiveness of four-drug regimens given concomitantly or sequentially with that of a standard 14-day regimen of triple therapy. Between September, 2009, and June, 2010, we did a randomised trial of empiric 14-day triple, 5-day concomitant, and 10-day sequential therapies for H pylori in seven Latin American sites: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico (two sites). Participants aged 21-65 years who tested positive for H pylori by a urea breath test were randomly assigned by a central computer using a dynamic balancing procedure to: 14 days of lansoprazole, amoxicillin, and clarithromycin (standard therapy); 5 days of lansoprazole, amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and metronidazole (concomitant therapy); or 5 days of lansoprazole and amoxicillin followed by 5 days of lansoprazole, clarithromycin, and metronidazole (sequential therapy). Eradication was assessed by urea breath test 6-8 weeks after randomisation. The trial was not masked. Our primary outcome was probablity of H pylori eradication. Our analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, registration number NCT01061437. 1463 participants aged 21-65 years were randomly allocated a treatment: 488 were treated with 14-day standard therapy, 489 with 5-day concomitant therapy, and 486 with 10-day sequential therapy. The probability of eradication with standard therapy was 82·2 (401 of 488), which was 8·6 higher (95 adjusted CI 2·6-14·5) than with concomitant therapy (73·6 [360 of 489]) and 5·6 higher (-0·04 to 11·6) than with sequential therapy (76·5 [372 of 486]). Neither four-drug regimen was significantly better than standard triple therapy in any of the seven sites. Standard 14-day triple-drug therapy is preferable to 5-day concomitant or 10-day sequential four-drug regimens as empiric therapy for H pylori infection in diverse Latin American populations. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US National Institutes of Health. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.