Isogenic urease-negative mutants of Helicobacter pylori were constructed by allelic replacement. A region of cloned H. pylori DNA containing the structural urease genes (ureA and ureB) was disrupted by insertion of a mini- Tn3-Km transposon. Electrotransformation of H. pylori cells with kanamycin- ureB-disrupted derivative plasmids resulted in isolation of kanamycin- resistant H. pylori transformants. Competence for electrotransformation appeared to be restricted to certain wild-type H. pylori isolates; only 1 isolate (of 10 tested) was consistently transformed. Two of the kanamycin- resistant H. pylori transformants were further studied and shown to be urease negative. Southern hybridization analyses demonstrated that the urease- negative mutants had been constructed by allelic exchange involving simultaneous replacement of the ureB gene with the kanamycin-ureB-disrupted copy and loss of the vector. Immunoblot studies of whole-cell extracts of the isogenic ureB mutants with anti-H. pylori sera indicated the absence of a polypeptide with an apparent molecular mass of 61 kDa; thus, the mutants no longer synthesized the UreB product. Generation of stable, genetically engineered urease mutants of H. pylori will be useful for addressing the role of urease in the pathogenesis of H. pylori infection.