Helicobacter pylori is a Gram-negative microaerophilic organism that colonizes the gastric mucosa of humans. Helicobacter pylori is one of the most common infections in humans and results in the development of gastritis in all infected individuals, although the majority of people are asymptomatic. A subset of infected people develop serious disease including duodenal ulceration and gastric cancer. Helicobacter pylori exhibits many striking characteristics. It lives in the hostile environment of the stomach and displays a very strict host and tissue tropism. Despite a vigorous immune response, infection persists for the lifetime of the host unless eradicated with antimicrobials. Why H. pylori is so pathogenic in some individuals and not in others is unknown but is thought to be due to a variety of host, environmental and bacterial factors. In this review, some of the bacterial factors that mediate colonization of the gastric mucosa and play a role in the pathogenesis of this organism have been considered.