Graft failure in the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells occurs despite donor-host genetic identity of human leukocyte antigens, suggesting that additional factors modulate engraftment. With the nobese diabetic (NOD)-severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) xenotransplantation model, we found that the NOD background allowed better hematopoietic engraftment than did other strains with equivalent immunodeficiency-related mutations. We used positional genetics to characterize the molecular basis for this strain specificity and found that the NOD Sirpa allele conferred support for human hematopoiesis. NOD SIRP-alpha showed enhanced binding to the human CD47 ligand, and its expression on mouse macrophages was required for support of human hematopoiesis. Thus, we have identified Sirpa polymorphism as a potent genetic determinant of the engraftment of human hematopoietic stem cells.