Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is an increasing health problem in developed countries and is associated with enormous costs in terms of reduced quality of life, loss of productivity, health expenses and mortality. The gastrointestinal disease with the highest annual direct costs in the US (in the year 2000) was GERD (9.3 billion US dollars). GERD is primarily a motility disorder of the oesophagus, however, there are no available promotility drugs on the market. The main symptoms are heartburn and acid regurgitation arising from the reflux of gastric acid, which is the only factor at present suited for pharmacological intervention. The proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) give optimal benefit in the treatment of GERD. The sales of PPIs in the year 2002 amounted to 12 billion US dollars in North America and 4 billion US dollars in Europe and the sales have been increasing by > 10% annually. This paper reviews the use of PPIs in the treatment of GERD with particular focus on one of the newer agents, rabeprazole.