A cascade of precursor lesions (eg, atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia) precedes most gastric adenocarcinomas. Quantification of gastric cancer risk in patients with premalignant gastric lesions is unclear, however. Consequently, endoscopic surveillance is controversial, especially in Western populations. To analyze current surveillance practice and gastric cancer risk in patients with premalignant gastric lesions, all patients with a first diagnosis between 1991 and 2004 were identified in the Dutch nationwide histopathology registry (PALGA); follow-up data were evaluated until December 2005. In total, 22,365 (24%) patients were diagnosed with atrophic gastritis, 61,707 (67%) with intestinal metaplasia, 7616 (8%) with mild-to-moderate dysplasia, and 562 (0.6%) with severe dysplasia. Patients with a diagnosis of atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, or mild-to-moderate dysplasia received re-evaluation in 26%, 28%, and 38% of cases, respectively, compared with 61% after a diagnosis of severe dysplasia (P < .001). The annual incidence of gastric cancer was 0.1% for patients with atrophic gastritis, 0.25% for intestinal metaplasia, 0.6% for mild-to-moderate dysplasia, and 6% for severe dysplasia within 5 years after diagnosis. Risk factors for gastric cancer development were increasing severity of premalignant gastric lesions at initial diagnosis (eg, severe dysplasia, hazard ratio 40.14, 95% confidence interval 32.2-50.1), increased age (eg, 75-84 years, hazard ratio 3.75, 95% confidence interval 2.8-5.1), and male gender (hazard ratio 1.50, 95% CI 1.3-1.7). Patients with premalignant gastric lesions are at considerable risk of gastric cancer. As current surveillance of these patients is inconsistent with their cancer risk, development of guidelines is indicated.