Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a T-cell-mediated disease of the central nervous system, characterized by damage to myelin and axons, resulting in progressive neurological disability. Genes may influence susceptibility to MS, but results of association studies are inconsistent, aside from the identification of HLA class II haplotypes. Whole-genome linkage screens in MS have both confirmed the importance of the HLA region and uncovered non-HLA loci that may harbor susceptibility genes. In this two-stage analysis, we determined genotypes, in up to 672 MS patients and 672 controls, for 123 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 66 genes. Genes were chosen based on their chromosomal positions or biological functions. In stage one, 22 genes contained at least one SNP for which the carriage rate for one allele differed significantly (P<0.08) between patients and controls. After additional genotyping in stage two, two genes--each containing at least three significantly (P<0.05) associated SNPs--conferred susceptibility to MS: LAG3 on chromosome 12p13, and IL7R on 5p13. LAG3 inhibits activated T cells, while IL7R is necessary for the maturation of T and B cells. These results imply that germline allelic variation in genes involved in immune homeostasis--and, by extension, derangement of immune homeostasis--influence the risk of MS.