The ultrastructure of microvessels in the gastric mucosa of patients with atrophic gastritis was investigated. In the gastric mucosa of atrophic gastritis, the endothelial cells of microvessels were irregularly swollen and subendothelial spaces were enlarged. The basement membrane underlying the endothelium was thickened. Degeneration of smooth-muscle cells was also evident in the media. These changes appear to correspond to sclerosis or aging of the microvessels. Such sclerotic changes in microvessels may initiate deterioration of the microenvironment in the gastric mucosa and may consequently affect metabolic activity of the gastric mucosal cells. Those sequences might induce degeneration or abnormal differentiation of mucosal cells. Such vascular changes may advance slowly and increase in intensity with advancing age. The final result would be the histologic changes associated with atrophic gastritis.