The Gram-negative bacterium Helicobacter pylori is both a normal constituent of the human gastric microbiota as well as a pathogen tightly associated with severe gastric disorders. The ability of H. pylori to activate the inflammasome and caspase-1 in antigen-presenting and other cells, and the resulting processing and release of caspase-1-dependent cytokines, impacts both the immunomodulatory and pathogenic activities of H. pylori. This article summarizes recent insights by us and others on the bacterial and host prerequisites of inflammasome activation. H. pylori predominantly activates the NLRP3 inflammasome through a process that requires TLR2-dependent licensing. We identified the urease enzyme, a colonization determinant known to be required for acid adaptation, as critically required for activation of the TLR2/NLRP3/caspase-1 axis. The phenotypes of urease mutants, as well as mouse strains defective for TLR2 or NLRP3, are discussed with respect to their ability to support persistent colonization, immune tolerance and immunity to H. pylori.