The HLA-E protein is one of the most extensively studied MHC class Ib antigens and the least polymorphic one compared to other MHC class I molecules. In the human population there have been reported just ten alleles encoding three different peptides. Only two of these alleles, namely HLA-E*0101 and HLA-E*0103, are widely distributed (around 50% each). The proteins encoded by these alleles differ from each other in one amino acid at position 107. In HLA-E*0101 it is arginine and in HLA-E*0103 it is glycine. The difference between these proteins manifests itself in surface expression levels, affinities to leader peptides and thermal stabilities of their complexes. The HLA-E molecule is a ligand for CD94/NKG2 receptors on NK cells and TCR receptors on NK-CTL (NK-cytotoxic T lymphocyte) cells, so it plays a double role in both innate and adaptive immunity. This paper reviews the knowledge on the role of the HLA-E molecule in the immunological response. Aspects related to polymorphism of the HLA-E gene and the course of several diseases including type I diabetes, ankylosing spondylitis, HCV and HIV infections, nasopharyngeal cancer and recurrent spontaneous abortions, as well as the outcome of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, are presented and discussed in more detail.