Helicobacter pylori is the strongest risk factor for gastric adenocarcinoma, which develops within a hypochlorhydric environment. We sequentially isolated H. pylori (strain J99) from a patient who developed corpus-predominant gastritis and hypochlorhydia over a 6-year interval. Archival J99 survived significantly better under acidic conditions than recent J99 strains. H. pylori arsRS encodes a 2-component system critical for stress responses; recent J99 isolates harbored 2 nonsynonymous arsS mutations, and arsS inactivation abolished acid survival. In vivo, acid-resistant archival, but not recent J99, successfully colonized high-acid-secreting rodents. Thus, genetic evolution of arsS may influence progression to hypochlorhydia and gastric cancer.