The metabolism of pyruvate by Helicobacter pylori was investigated employing one- and two-dimensional 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Generation of pyruvate from l-serine in incubations with whole cell lysates indicated the presence of serine dehydratase activity in the bacterium. Pyruvate was formed also in cell suspensions and lysates from phosphoenol pyruvate. Metabolically competent cells incubated aerobically with pyruvate yielded alanine, lactate, acetate, formate, and succinate. The production of alanine and lactate indicated the presence of alanine transaminase and lactate dehydrogenase activities, respectively. Accumulation of acetate and formate as metabolic products provided evidence for the existence of a mixed-acid fermentation pathway in the microorganism. Formation of succinate suggested the incorporation of the pyruvate carbon skeleton into the Kreb's cycle. Addition of pyruvate to various liquid culture media did not affect bacterial growth or loss of viability. The variety of products formed using pyruvate as the sole substrate showed the important role of this metabolite in the energy metabolism of H. pylori.