Campylobacter pylori was identified with immunoperoxidase staining and a mouse monoclonal antibody directed against C. pylori in gastric biopsy specimens from 24 patients with gastritis. C. pylori was not found in gastric biopsy specimens from six subjects with histologically normal mucosa. The monoclonal antibody, which was reactive with a surface protein of approximately 20 kilodaltons, was found to be specific for C. pylori, and the immunoperoxidase staining proved to be more sensitive and rapid than culture in detecting the organism. In the tissue specimens where C. pylori was detected with the monoclonal antibody, there was a strong expression of class II transplantation antigens on the epithelial cells and an increased number of T lymphocytes. These findings indicate that C. pylori may initiate local immune responses.