Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and Helicobacter pylori have been identified as pathogenic factors in several gastrointestinal disorders. Since little information is available regarding the mechanistic pathways of H. pylori-induced gastric injury, the potential role of ROS was investigated. The induction of ROS in gastric cells (GC) by H. pylori was assessed using chemiluminescence, cytochrome c reduction, nitrobluetetrazolium (NBT) reduction and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage. The dose-dependent protective abilities of selected ROS scavengers on LDH leakage were determined. Following incubation of GC with three strains of H. pylori (1:1), approximately 5.7-8.0 and 3.8-4.3 fold increases were observed in cytochrome c and NBT reduction, respectively, demonstrating production of ROS. Enhanced chemiluminescence responses of 2.1- and 3.7-fold were observed following incubation of GC with H. pylori (ATCC 43504) at ratios of 1:1 and 1:10, respectively. Approximately 2.2- and 3.5-fold increases in LDH leakage were observed at GC:H. pylori (ATCC 43504) ratios of 1:1 and 1:10, respectively. Substantial inhibition of LDH leakage from GC in the presence of H. pylori was observed following co-incubations with selected ROS scavengers with cimetidine serving as the best chemoprotectant. The antioxidants and H2-receptor antagonists had no effect on growth of H. pylori cells. This study demonstrates that H. pylori induces enhanced production of ROS in GC, and enhances membrane damage.