In the hospital setting, prophylactic acid suppression is an important part of care for many critically ill patients. It may also prevent rebleeding in patients admitted with acute upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Effective treatments for these conditions stemmed from our increased understanding of the gastric acid secretory pathway and target pH values. The late 1970s saw the introduction of histamine2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs), which partially suppress basal and meal-stimulated acid secretion. Some of these agents can induce an intragastric pH greater than 3, lasting for approximately 10 hours/day when given twice/day at recommended doses. This level of acid suppression can facilitate healing of duodenal ulcers but has limited efficacy for other indications (e.g., gastrointestinal bleed). In the late 1980s a more potent class of acid-suppressing agents was developed, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The PPIs can induce an intragastric pH above 3 lasting for approximately 17 hours/day, and an intragastric pH above 5 for approximately 9 hours/day after once-daily oral administration of recommended doses. It is possible to attain even higher target pH values with large doses and with continuous intravenous infusion. Thus, PPIs are agents of choice for treatment of many acid-related disorders including peptic ulcer disease and moderate-to-severe gastroesophageal reflux disease, and for prevention of rebleeding in patients with upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Availability of an intravenous formulation, pantoprazole, enables hospitalized patients for whom oral administration is not feasible to benefit from the superior potency of PPIs. Preliminary data suggest that intravenous PPIs may be more effective than H2RA prophylaxis against stress-related ulcer bleeding for intensive care patients and should facilitate healing in those with bleeding ulcers of the upper gastrointestinal tract.