To set an accurate chronological framework to the evolution of primate class I and II genes in the major histocompatibility complex (Mhc), the rate of silent nucleotide substitutions in exons and introns is examined for various cDNA and genome sequences currently available. The rate is sensitive to the GC content and correlates negatively with increased GC biases at the third codon positions of Mhc genes. The intergenic recombination rate in the HLA region is estimated from the synonymous nucleotide differences at 37 linked loci. Any HLA subregion is recombined more or less at the ordinary rate of 1 cM per 1 Mb, although the rate may be reduced in some subregions. This information is used to discuss HLA haplotypes when they are applied to studies of human demography. The unusual polymorphism in the alpha-helix of HLA-DRB1 is also revisited in relation to intragenic recombination, but the molecular mechanism and the evolutionary cause both remain enigmatic.