To elucidate the pathogenesis of Helicobaer pylori-associated gastritis, we studied immune responses of C57BL/6J wild-type (WT), SCID, and gene deficient (IFN-γ(-/-) and IL-4(-/-)) mice following infection with a pathogenic isolate of H. pylori (SPM326). During early infection in WT mice, mononuclear and polymorphonuclear cells accumulated in the gastric lamina propria, and the numbers of cells in the inflamed mucosa expressing IFN-γ, but not IL-4, mRNA rose significantly (p < 0.005), consistent with a local Th1 response. Splenic T cells from the same infected WT mice produced high levels of IFN-γ, no detectable IL-4, and low amounts of IL-10 following in vitro H. pylori urease stimulation, reflecting a systemic Th1 response. Infected C57BL/6J SCID mice did not develop gastric inflammation despite colonization by many bacteria. Infected C57BL/10J and BALB/c mice also did not develop gastric inflammation and displayed a mixed Th1/Th2 splenic cytokine profile. These data imply a major role for the Th1 cytokine IFN-γ in H. pylori-associated gastric inflammation in C57BL/6J mice. Compared with WT animals, infected IL-4(-/-) animals had more severe gastritis and higher levels of IFN-γ production by urease-stimulated splenocytes (p < 0.01), whereas IFN-γ(-/-) mice exhibited no gastric inflammation and higher levels of IL-4 production by stimulated splenocytes. These findings establish C57BL/6J mice as an important model for H. pylori infection and demonstrate that up-regulated production of IFN-γ, in the absence of the opposing effects of IL-4 (and possibly IL-10), plays a pivotal role in promoting H. pylori-induced mucosal inflammation.