B7-H1 [programmed death-ligand-1 (PD-L1)] is a B7-family member that binds to programmed death-1 (PD-1). Recently, deficiency of PD-L1 has been demonstrated to result in accelerated gastric epithelial cell damage in gastritis, and PD-L1 is suggested to play a critical role in regulating T cell homeostasis. Here, we aimed to gain more insight into gastric PD-L1 expression, regulation and function during Helicobacter pylori infection. PD-L1 expression in human gastric epithelial cells was analysed using Western blotting, quantitative polymerase chain reaction and fluorescence activated cell sorter analysis. Furthermore, co-culture experiments of human gastric epithelial cells with primary human T cells or Jurkat T cells were conducted. PD-L1 expression in primary human gastric epithelial cells was strongly enhanced by H. pylori infection and activated T cells, and augmented markedly by further stimulation with interferon-γ or tumour necrosis factor-α. Moreover, PD-L1 expression in gastric epithelial cells significantly induced apoptosis of T cells. Our results indicate that a novel bidirectional interaction between human gastric epithelial cells and lymphocytes modulates PD-L1 expression in human gastric epithelial cells, contributing to the unique immunological properties of the stomach.