Background: Although widely used, few data are available on the appropriateness of prescribing of acid-suppressing drugs (ASDs), despite guidelines on the investigation and treatment of dyspeptic patients. Methods: We created a database of 62,000 endoscopy examinations and record-linked these to a prescribing database. Endoscopic diagnoses were classified into peptic, nonpeptic and others. The H2-antagonists, omeprazole and misoprostol, were studied. ResuIts: 35,000 patients had one or more endoscopies during 1978-93; two-thirds were over 45 years of age at first endoscopy. A quarter of all patients who had been endoscoped had consistently normal examinations. Peptic oesophageal pathology was the commonest positive finding. A quarter of those prescribed ASDs between 1989 and 1993 had been endoscoped between 1978 and 1993. In those with a peptic diagnosis prescribed any ASD, the pathologies found were: oesophageal (42.9%), duodenal (36.3%) and gastropyloric (21.3%). Patients prescribed omeprazole were more likely to have undergone endoscopy than those prescribed other ASDs, and they were also more likely to have peptic oesophageal pathology. Long-term prescribing (> 56 days per year) occurred in two-thirds of patients prescribed ASDs and 40% had at least one endoscopy. In those prescribed short-term ASDs, 20% had undergone at least one endoscopy. Peptic and nonpeptic endoscopic pathology was associated with increased ASD prescribing, but a normal endoscopy did not reduce prescribing. Conclusion: ASD prescribing appeared to be mainly symptom-driven. Positive endoscopic findings increased the prescribing of ASDs, but normal findings did not reduce it.