OBJECTIVE: Helicobacter pylori infection is acquired mainly in early childhood. Much is unknown about the mode of transmission. The organism can be cultivated from cathartic stools and vomitus and is potentially transmissible during episodes of gastrointestinal tract illness. Because Shigella and Salmonella are common pathogens in enteric infections in children, we examined the association of H. pylori with Shigella and Salmonella infections in pediatric patients. METHODS: The study population included consecutive children aged 2-72 months hospitalized with acute gastroenteritis who had culture-proven shigellosis (N = 78) or salmonellosis (N = 76). Sixty-five healthy similarly aged children with culture-negative stools served as controls. Parents of cases were queried for personal and family characteristics and socioeconomic indicators. The stool specimens from all participants were tested for H. pylori antigen. RESULTS: On univariate analysis, Shigella gastroenteritis was significantly associated with H. pylori positivity (odds ratio, OR: 3.5, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5-8.8, p = 0.004) compared to controls. This association remained significant even after adjusting for living conditions, father's occupation, and father's education (OR = 3.38, 95% CI: 1.39-8.22, p = 0.007). Salmonella gastroenteritis was not associated with H. pylori positivity (OR = 1.1; 95% CI: 0.4-3.0, p = 0.8). CONCLUSION: H. pylori infection in young children is associated with Shigella gastroenteritis. This association warrants further investigation.