The bacteria Helicobacter pylori is a major human pathogen that infects over half of the world's population. Infection initiates a series of changes in the gastric mucosa, beginning with atrophic gastritis and leading in some patients to peptic ulcer disease, mucosa-associated lymphomas, and gastric adenocarcinoma. Although this cascade of events clearly occurs, little is known about the role of the host immune response in disease progression. We have utilized the C57BL/6 Helicobacter felis mouse model to critically analyze the role of the adaptive immune response in the development of Helicobacter-associated gastric pathology. Infection of B and T cell- deficient RAG-1(-/-) mice or T cell-deficient TCRβδ(-/-) mice with H. felis resulted in high levels of colonization, but no detectable gastric pathology. Conversely, infection of B cell-deficient μMT mice resulted in severe gastric alterations identical with those seen in immunocompetent C57BL/6- infected mice, including gastric mucosal hyperplasia and intestinal metaplasia. These results demonstrate that the host T cell response is a critical mediator of Helicobacter-associated gastric pathology, and that B and their secreted Abs are not the effectors of the immune-mediated gastric pathology seen after H. felis infection. These results indicate that in addition to specific Helicobacter virulence factors, the host immune response is an important determinant of Helicobacter-associated disease.