To examine the genetic diversity in west Africa, class I HLA-A and HLA-B alleles of 92 unrelated individuals from two areas in the Cameroon, the capital Yaoundé and the village of Etoa, were identified by direct automated DNA sequencing of exons 2 and 3 of the HLA-B locus alleles and sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe (SSOP) and/or sequencing of the HLA-A locus alleles. HLA-A*2301 (18.7%), A*2902 (10.4%), B*5301 (10.9%), and B*5802 (10.9%) were the most frequently detected alleles, present in at least 10% of the population. A total of 30 HLA-A locus and 33 HLA-B locus alleles, including six novel alleles, were detected. The novel alleles were HLA-A*03012, A*2612, A*3006 and HLA-B*1403, B*4016, and B*4703. HLA-B*4703 contains a novel amino acid sequence that is a combination of the first 5 amino acids of the Bw6 epitope and the last 2 residues of the Bw4 epitope. The addition of 6 alleles to the ever-expanding number of known class I HLA alleles supports our hypothesis that extensive genetic diversity, including previously undescribed alleles, would be observed in this African population. In the Yaoundé population, the allele frequency distribution at the HLA-A locus is consistent with distributions indicative of balancing selection. Extensive HLA-A-B haplotypes were observed in this population suggesting that only a fraction of the Cameroon HLA-A-B haplotype diversity has been observed.