The two major primary antibody deficiency disorders are X-linked hypogammaglobulinaemia (XLA) and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). CVID patients have an elevated risk for gastric cancer and extra-nodal marginal zone lymphoma. Both diseases are associated with Helicobacter pylori infection. We investigated whether antibody deficiency leads to defective serum bactericidal activity against H. pylori. We also investigated the correlation with immunoglobulin (Ig)M levels and observed the terminal complement complex (TCC) activity. Sera of 13 CVID patients (four H. pylori positive), one patient with hyper-IgM syndrome, one patient with Good syndrome (both H. pylori positive), five XLA patients, four H. pylori seropositive controls, four H. pylori seronegative controls and a sample of pooled human serum (PHS) were incubated in vitro with bacterial suspensions of H. pylori for 30 min. After 72 h of culture, colony-forming units were counted. TCC formation was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We found that normal human serum is bactericidal for H. pylori, whereas heat-inactivated serum shows hardly any killing of H. pylori. Serum (1%) of hypogammaglobulinaemia patients has a decreased bactericidal activity against H. pylori. Helicobacter pylori-positive (HP(+)) normal individuals show more than 90% killing of H. pylori, whereas CVID patients show 35% killing (P = 0.007) and XLA patients only 19% (P = 0.003). Serum (1%) of HP(+) volunteers showed significantly better killing compared with serum of H. pylori-negative (HP(-)) volunteers (P = 0.034). No correlation between (substituted) IgG levels and serum bactericidal activity was found, but a weak correlation between total serum IgM and serum bactericidal activity was found. In conclusion, serum bactericidal activity against H. pylori is decreased in patients with hypogammaglobulinaemia. Heat treatment of the serum abolished the bactericidal capacity, indicating that complement activity is essential for the bactericidal effect.