Previous serological studies of Greek rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients have failed to demonstrate an association with DR4. Using sequence specific oligonucleotide typing we have identified the DRB1 alleles in panels of Greek RA patients and controls. When patient and control HLA-DRB1 frequencies were compared, significantly higher frequencies of DRB1*0101 (23.3% vs. 7.0%, odds ratio [OR] 4.0, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.4-12.0) and DRB1*1001 (20.9% vs. 5.8%, OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.3-13.7) were found in RA patients compared with controls. No association of DRB1*04 with RA was observed (20.9% vs. 14.0% in controls) confirming earlier reports. However DRB1*04 subtyping demonstrated a small but significant increase of DRB1*0405 in patients (14.0% vs. 3.5%, OR 4.5, 95% CI 1.1-18.9). When the frequency of individuals carrying the shared RA susceptibility epitope was compared between patients and controls it was found to be significantly higher in RA patients (60.5% vs. 22.1%, OR 5.4, 95% CI 2.4-12.0). We conclude that the shared epitope is significantly associated with RA in this population, but that it is predominantly accounted for by DRB1*0101 and DRB1*1001. Previous studies of UK RA patients have demonstrated a negative association of DR2 with disease and articular erosions. HLA-DR2 variants, DRB1*1501 and *1502 are not at reduced frequency in Greek RA patients (DRB1*1501, 14.0% in patients vs. 7.0% in controls; DRB1*1502, 7.0% in patients vs. 7.0% in controls). Genes conferring RA resistance may be in linkage disequilibrium with DR2 in UK patients. This does not appear to be the case in Greek RA patients. No association was seen between RA and HLA-DPB1 type.