The second exons of OLA-DQB genes from 13 merino sheep were sequenced following amplification by the polymerase chain reaction or isolation from a cDNA library. Ten distinct exon 2 sequences, coding for 10 novel amino acid sequences, were characterized in these sheep. The single-strand conformation polymorphism technique was shown to be capable of discriminating between all sequences. This brings the total number of different OLA-DQB exon 2 sequences (nucleotide and amino acid) which have been characterized to 12, and demonstrates that the OLA-DQB region is highly polymorphic with 29% of nucleotide and 46% of amino acid sites showing variation. Evidence is presented that the OLA-DQB sequences belong to at least two lineages of DQB genes. Some ovine DQB sequences are more like bovine DQB counterparts than other ovine DQB sequences suggesting that the artiodactyl DQB gene and allele lineages predate the separation of the ovine and bovine species 20 million years ago.