Two new allelic exon-2 HLA-DRB sequences have been identified by using universal and also specific DRB primers. They may correspond to a previously unidentified DRB gene (DRB sigma) and define a new supratypic group ("DRw54") which includes DR1, DR"Br", DR2 and DRw10 bearing HLA haplotypes. This is probably the last HLA-DRB gene to be described in the standard DR haplotypes on the bases of the number of TaqI RFLPs obtained. Sequence comparison with their respective DP and DQ sequences shows that DRB sigma is unequivocally placed within the DRB family and also a constructed "neighbouring homology tree" indicates that DRB sigma gene is probably the eldest in the DRB family, thus the first to diverge from the ancestral DRB gene. An hypothetically deduced DRB sigma beta 1 protein domain was found to be quite different from the corresponding DRB1, DRB3, DRB4 and DRB5 products, since residues 40-55 would bear a longer alpha-helical conformation and would also exist a loss of both the extended conformation at residues 50-54 and the alpha-helix at residues 64-71. Thus, the putative DRB sigma protein would be remarkably different to other DRB ones. Also, a DRB sigma partial transcript (exon-2) has been obtained by PCR of cDNA by using specific DRB sigma oligonucleotides, but a specific Northern blot hybridization has not been achieved.