Within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1 locus is clearly associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Using a microsatellite (MSat) typing approach, we aimed to identify other loci associated with RA susceptibility and/or severity within the MHC. A panel of nine MSat HLA loci [D6S291, D6S2876 (G51152), D6S1666 (DQCAR II), D6S273, D6S2789 (TNFd), D6S2810 (MIB), D6S265, D6S2222, D6S2239], and HLA-A, -B and -DRB1 genes were typed in 170 RA cases and 282 controls. For susceptibility analysis, MSat and HLA allele distribution were compared between cases and controls, before and after stratification on HLA-DRB1*04. Haplotype frequencies were estimated using an expectation-maximization algorithm in a permutation test procedure. For severity analysis, we compared the distribution of structural damage score at onset and after 4 years of follow-up in RA cases carrying susceptibility alleles. Two MSat polymorphisms were positively associated with RA susceptibility allele*136 of D6S265 [odds ratio, OR (confidence interval, CI) = 1.55 (1.11-2.17), P= 0.007], allele*116 of D6S2239 [OR = 1.34 (1-1.79), P= 0.03] and HLA-A2 [OR = 1.46 (1.08-1.98), P= 0.01]. Two MSat polymorphisms were negatively associated with RA susceptibility allele*133 of D6S273 [OR = 0.3 (0.1-0.75), P= 0.005] and allele*177 of D6S291 [OR = 0.72 (0.53-0.96), P= 0.02]. The association between allele*136 of D6S265 and RA susceptibility remained unchanged after stratification on HLA-DRB1*04. The haplotypic analysis showed an overrepresentation of D6S265*136/HLA-A*02 haplotype, which suggests an effect independent of HLA-DRB1 locus in RA susceptibility. While HLA-A2 and HLA-DR4 were associated with RA severity, no MSat polymorphism was associated with structural damage score.