With the momentous discovery in the 1980's that a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, can cause peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer, antibiotic therapies and prophylactic measures have been successful, only in part, in reducing the global burden of these diseases. To date, ~700,000 deaths worldwide are still attributable annually to gastric cancer alone. Here, we review H. pylori's contribution to the epidemiology and histopathology of both gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease. This article examine the host-pathogen relationship and H. pylori biology in context of these diseases, focusing on strain differences, virulence factors (CagA and VacA), immune activation and the challenges posed by resistance to existing therapies. Authors consider also the important role of host-genetic variants, for example, in inflammatory response genes, in determining infection outcome and the role of H. pylori in other pathologies—some accepted, for example, MALT lymphoma, and others more controversial, for example, idiopathic thrombocytic purpura. More recently, intriguing suggestions that H. pylori has protective effects in GERD and autoimmune diseases, such as asthma, have gained momentum. Therefore, authors consider the basis for these suggestions and discuss the potential impact for future therapeutic rationales.