AIMS--To determine the prevalence of lymphoid follicles in Helicobacter pylori positive and negative gastritis in antral and body type gastric mucosa in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia (NUD), duodenal ulcer, or gastric ulcer; to correlate follicle presence with patient age; to evaluate the correlation between the prevalence of lymphoid follicles and active and inactive gastritis and its severity; and to assess the positive predictive value of lymphoid follicle prevalence with respect to H pylori infection. METHODS--Gastric biopsy specimens, graded according to the Sydney system, from 337 patients were studied. RESULTS--Lymphoid follicles occurred more often in antral mucosa (78%) than in body type mucosa (41%) and were observed in 85% of patients with H pylori positive gastritis. There was no significant difference between NUD and gastric and duodenal ulcer disease with regard to the presence of lymphoid follicles. The positive predictive value of the presence of lymphoid follicles in H pylori infection was 96%. Lymphoid follicles were more commonly observed in patients aged between 10 and 29 years. Lymphoid follicles were more frequently found in pangastritis of all subtypes than in antral gastritis and also in active gastritis than in inactive gastritis. The presence of lymphoid follicles correlated strongly with the degree and severity of gastritis. CONCLUSION--Lymphoid follicles are a constant morphological feature of H pylori associated gastritis.