Because Helicobacter pylori persist for decades in the human stomach, the aim of this study was to examine the long-term course of H. pylori-specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses with respect to subclass and antigenic target. We studied paired serum samples obtained in 1973 and in 1994 in Vammala, Finland, from 64 healthy H. pylori-positive adults and from other healthy control subjects. H. pylori serum immunoglobulin A, IgG, and IgG subclass responses were determined by antigen-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. H. pylori-specific IgG1 and IgG4 subtype responses from 47 subjects were similar in 1973 and 1994, but not when compared with unrelated persons. H. pylori-specific IgG1:IgG4 ratios among the participants varied 11000-fold; however, 57 (89.1%) of 64 subjects had an IgG1:IgG4 ratio >1.0, consistent with a predominant IgG1 (Th1) response. Furthermore, ratios in individual hosts were stable over the 21- year period (r=0.56; P < .001). The immune response to heat shock protein HspA was unchanged in 49 (77%) of the 64 subjects tested; of the 15 whose serostatus changed, all seroconverted and were significantly younger than those whose status did not change. These findings indicate that H. pylori-specific antibody responses are host-specific with IgG1:IgG4 ratios stable over 21 years, IgG1 responses predominating, and HspA seroconversion with aging.