We examined the distribution of polymorphic elements within the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) gene cluster in 105 unrelated individuals and determined their relationship to class I and class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens, and to the highly polymorphic microsatellites TNFa and TNFb. The data demonstrate the contribution of elements within the TNF cluster to two extended haplotypes which are recognized to straddle the MHC. The A1.B8.DR3 haplotype appears to contain the TNF alleles TNFa2, TNFb3, LT.Nco-1.B*1, and TNF-308.2, while the A3.B7.DR2 haplotype is associated with the TNF alleles TNFa11, TNFb6, TNFc1, LT.Nco-1.B*2, LT.AspH1.1, TNF-308.1, and TNFe1. The presence of other extended associations which covered smaller parts of the MHC was also suggested. In most cases, the associations described here were in keeping with previously described extended haplotypes which dominate the structure of the MHC, but these did not always match completely. Taken together, these data suggest that the structure of the TNF locus is well integrated into the rest of the MHC but that important ethnic differences may exist.