Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) mainly originating from India were analysed for their major histocompatibility complex class I-related (MIC) gene repertoire. Thus far, three distinct genes, designated MIC1, MIC2 and MIC3, have been identified in the rhesus macaque. In addition, an MICD pseudogene has been described mapping apart from the other loci in a telomeric direction. Genomic comparisons and the presence of a characteristic microsatellite in exon 5 suggest that the MIC1 gene is the equivalent of the human MICA gene. Hence, the MIC2 gene, lacking the microsatellite - as do humans -, is considered to be the equivalent of human MICB. The MIC3 gene, a hybrid of MICA and MICB, seems to be generated by a crossing-over event with one breakpoint in intron 3 and accordingly is named MICA/B. Apart from their human counterparts, MICA, MICB and MICA/B cluster in separate branches in the phylogenetic tree, confirming the hybrid character of the MICA/B gene. Population analyses have shown that the various genes display polymorphism, and six MICA, five MICB and three MICA/B alleles have been identified. In the panel of homozygous typing cells, two distinct haplotype configurations have been defined by segregation analyses. Each haplotype comprises an MICB gene in conjunction with either an MICA or an MICA/B gene. Furthermore, the presence of a polymorphic microsatellite in the MICA and MICA/B alleles facilitates speedy and accurate haplotyping.