Colonization of the gastric mucosa by Helicobacter pylori can lead to serious clinical outcomes, including gastric cancer. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play an important role in the host response to H. pylori through the recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns. TLR9, in particular, is partly responsible for initiating bacterial induced immunity by binding unmethylated CpG-DNA, which is abundant in bacteria. A well-documented single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) within the TLR9 promoter (TLR9 - 1237T/C), is associated with a variety of inflammatory disorders, including allergic asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and atopy. Analysis of the TLR9 promoter gene sequence has shown that carriage of the variant "C" allele at position - 1237 creates a potential NF-κB binding site that would theoretically increase the transcriptional activity of the gene. In this study, we report that the TLR9 - 1237 C allele was significantly associated with the development of H. pylori-induced premalignant gastric changes. Functional analysis of the SNP, supporting the data generated from the genetic association study, showed that carriage of the C allele increased TLR9 transcriptional activity driven mainly by activation of NF-κB. Collectively, these findings confirm that the TLR9 - 1237T/C polymorphism is a risk factor for the development of H. pylori-induced premalignant gastric changes and provide a plausible mechanistic explanation.