Norovirus causes viral gastroenteritis, which is a major problem in health care. The disease causes death in elderly and seriously ill patients, and results in significant health costs each year. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce gastric acidity, which is an important protection against microorganisms. We hypothesised that treatment with PPIs increases the risk of contracting norovirus infection. This has not previously been studied. The study was a retrospective case–control study, in which 192 hospitalised patients positive for norovirus in Örebro County, Sweden, were identified as cases. For each case, a hospitalised patient who did not have the infection was selected as a control, and matched with respect to ward, gender, admission date and age. Details of exposure, i.e. treatment with PPIs, were retrieved from the patient records. Odds ratio (OR) with confidence intervals (CIs) and P-values were calculated using McNemar's test. There was a significantly increased risk of norovirus infection in patients treated with PPIs compared with patients without PPI treatment (OR 1·73, 95% CI 1·07–2·81; P = 0·02). PPIs appear to be a risk factor for norovirus infection, and our results motivate future studies to further examine this association.