This study was designed to test the sensitivity and specificity of serum anti-Helicobacter pylori IgG antibodies and the ratio of serum pepsinogen A to pepsinogen C (PGA:PGC) in detecting chronic atrophic gastritis (CAG) and intestinal metaplasia. Parallel gastric biopsies and a serum sample were collected from a series of 87 patients aged 20-69 years attending a routine upper endoscopy clinic. The seroprevalence (> 10 micrograms IgG/ml) of anti-H. pylori antibodies was 42.7%, and of a low PGA:PGC ratio (< 1.5) was 17.7%. A positive H. pylori IgG antibody level was more sensitive than the level of PGA:PGC in diagnosing CAG (71.4% and 25.0%, respectively), moderate CAG (86.7% and 26.7%, respectively), and intestinal metaplasia (90.9% and 50.0%, respectively). Anti-H. pylori IgG antibody levels were less specific than PGA:PGC levels in diagnosing CAG (90.9% and 93.9%, respectively), moderate CAG (78.3% and 89.1%, respectively), and intestinal metaplasia (72.6% and 92.2%, respectively). A combination of anti-H. pylori antibodies and a low PGA:PGC ratio for the detection of CAG resulted in a specificity of 100%, but the sensitivity was 21.4%.