Background. Helicobacter pylori (HP) is accepted as a major cause of type B gastritis, which is strongly associated with peptic ulcer disease. Epidemiological studies have indicated a correlation of HP infection and socioeconomic class.Methods. To determine the prevalence of HP infection and to evaluate symptoms and risk factors associated with HP infection in a rural population, 377 asymptomatic individuals were studied out of a random sample of 453 people. Subjects were randomly chosen in a ratio of 1:4 of all the adults over 30 years, living in eight communal settlements in Israel. Blood samples were taken and subjects answered a questionnaire in which sociodemographic information, clinical gastrointestinal background and the use of medication were included. A sensitive enzyme-linked immunoassay was used to determine antibodies to HP in serum.Results. The overall prevalence of HP infection was 72%. In a multivariant discriminant analysis: age, country of original and ethnic group were found to be the most closely associated variables for HP infection and the discriminant analysis succeeded in predicting correctly, in 62% of the population, whether they had or did not have HP infection. There was no significant difference with gender, occupation, educational level, blood group, smoking, gastrointestinal symptoms and use of medicationConclusions. The prevalence of HP infection was higher than that in Industrialized countries, but lower than in developing countries. The prevalence in a rural population was slightly higher than that of an urban population in Israel (65%). The country of origin and ethnic group influenced the prevalence of HP infection and not birth and growing up on the Kibbutz.