Background: The effect of Helicobacter pylori in provoking or protecting against gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is unclear and studies have given conflicting results. Recent guidelines recommend H. pylori eradication in patients on long-term proton pump inhibitors. Aim: To ascertain the effect of H. pylori eradication on gastro-oesophageal reflux disease outcomes (reflux oesophagitis and heartburn) in patients with duodenal ulcer disease, and to ascertain the effect of H. pylori infection on reflux oesophagitis concerning heartburn, pH, severity, healing and relapse rates. Methods: A systematic review of electronic databases was undertaken to September 2003. Experts in the field, pharmaceutical companies and journals were contacted about unpublished trials. Studies were reviewed according to predefined eligibility and quality criteria. Twenty-seven studies/trials were included in the systematic review. Results: Study variation rather than therapy-influenced results in relation to the presence or absence of oesophagitis in patients with duodenal ulcer who underwent H. pylori eradication at 6-48 months follow-up. In patients with reflux oesophagitis no obvious differences were discovered in heartburn scores, 24-h pH values, healing and relapse rates between H. pylori-positive and -negative cases. Conclusion: There is no evidence to indicate that H. pylori eradication in duodenal ulcer disease provokes reflux oesophagitis or worsens heartburn; (ii) there are insufficient data to draw firm conclusions about the impact of H. pylori in patients with reflux oesophagitis.