The isolation of genes of agronomic interest such as disease resistance genes is a central issue in wheat research. A good knowledge of the organization and evolution of the genome can greatly help in defining the best strategies for efficient gene isolation. So far, very few wheat disease resistance loci have been studied at the molecular level and little is known about their evolution during polyploidization and domestication. In this study, we have analyzed the haplotype structure at loci orthologous to the leaf rust resistance locus Lr10in hexaploid wheat which spans 350 kb in diploid wheat. Two haplotypes (H1, H2) were defined by the presence (H1) or the absence (H2) of two different resistance gene analogs ( rga1, rga2) at this locus on chromosome 1AS. Both haplotypes were found in a collection of 113 wild and cultivated diploid and polyploid wheat lines and they do not reflect phylogenetic relationships. This indicates an ancient origin for this disease resistance locus and the independent conservation of the two haplotypes throughout the evolution of the wheat genome. Finally, the coding regions of the H1 haplotype RGAs are extremely conserved in all the species. This suggests a selective pressure for maintaining the structural and functional configuration of this haplotype in wheat. Electronic supplementary material to this paper can be obtained by using the Springer LINK server located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10142-002-0051-9.