The isolation of the nematode-resistance gene Gpa2 in potato is described, and it is demonstrated that highly homologous resistance genes of a single resistance-gene cluster can confer resistance to distinct pathogen species. Molecular analysis of the Gpa2 locus resulted in the identification of an R-gene cluster of four highly homologous genes in a region of approximately 115 kb. At least two of these genes are active: one corresponds to the previously isolated Rx1 gene that confers resistance to potato virus X, while the other corresponds to the Gpa2 gene that confers resistance to the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida. The proteins encoded by the Gpa2 and the Rx1 genes share an overall homology of over 88% (amino-acid identity) and belong to the leucine-zipper, nucleotide-binding site, leucine-rich repeat (LZ-NBS-LRR)-containing class of plant resistance genes. From the sequence conservation between Gpa2 and Rx1 it is clear that there is a direct evolutionary relationship between the two proteins. Sequence diversity is concentrated in the LRR region and in the C-terminus. The putative effector domains are more conserved suggesting that, at least in this case, nematode and virus resistance cascades could share common components. These findings underline the potential of protein breeding for engineering new resistance specificities against plant pathogens in vitro.