BACKGROUND: Growth of Helicobacter pyloriin vitro depends on supplementation of the medium with blood or serum. However, these supplements often require frozen storage and can show batch-to-batch variation, resulting in differences in bacterial growth. In this study, we introduce the use of a commercially available, lipid-rich supplement called AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL, Grand Island, NY, USA) for use as a serum/blood replacement for H. pylori culture. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The growth of H. pylori on solid and liquid media was examined by comparing growth after supplementation with horse blood, fetal calf serum, β-cyclodextrin or AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL). Human gastric adenocarcinoma (AGS) cellular responses to H. pylori were measured by NF-κB luciferase assays and IL-8 ELISA. RESULTS: We show that the growth of H. pylori on both solid and liquid media containing AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL) were comparable to levels obtained on blood agar or liquid media supplemented with serum. Growth was consistently higher in media supplemented with AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL) than media containing β-cyclodextrin. Furthermore, bacteria grown in AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL) induced proinflammatory responses in AGS cells. CONCLUSIONS: AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL) can be used as a serum/blood replacement for the cultivation of H. pylori in solid and liquid media. This medium could be useful for an improved understanding of H. pylori metabolism or for antigen production. Furthermore, AlbuMAX II(®) (Gibco BRL) may be suitable for use in remote locations, particularly in areas where frozen storage of serum may be a problem.