Many animal models of Helicobacter infection have been described, including infection in rhesus monkeys, ferrets, gnotobiotic piglets, and mice. These animal models utilize a combination of detection methods, including culture, urease testing, and histopathology, all of which may be unreliable, insensitive, or labor-intensive. Development of new animal models of Helicobacter pylori requires new methods of detection with increased sensitivity and specificity. We have developed sensitive and specific PCR primers based on the 16S ribosomal gene sequence of H. pylori. The primers detected single-copy 16S DNA representing 0.2 cell of pure H. pylori (2 cells in the presence of mouse stomach mucosal DNA) and did not cross-react with closely related bacteria. We were able to detect colonization by H. pylori in conventional, euthymic, outbred mice up to 4 weeks postinoculation with a high percentage of isolates tested. One isolate of H. pylori was detected by PCR in 100% of the mice at 6 months and 60% of the mice 1 year after inoculation. Approximately 103 to 104 H. pylori cells per stomach were detected by utilizing this PCR methodology semiquantitatively. These primers and PCR methodology have facilitated detection of H. pylori colonization in conventional, euthymic mice, colonization which may not have been detectable by other methods.