Abstract: The highly polymorphic nonclassical MHC class I chain-related (MIC) genes MICA and MICB encode stress inducible glycoproteins expressed on a variety of epithelial cells including intestinal cells. Interaction with the receptor NKG2D is likely to provide an important costimulatory signal for activation and proliferation of NK cells, activated macrophages and CD8 αβ and γδ T cells. Fifty-four MICA and 17 MICB alleles have been described to date. Although the functional significance of this polymorphism is not known, the high degree of nonconservative substitution, concentration to the putative ligand-binding site and recent observation that different MICA alleles bind to NKG2D with varying affinity has generated much interest. The MIC genes are attractive functional and positional candidate genes for inflammatory bowel disease susceptibility as a consequence of their position in the HLA region and expression on the gastrointestinal epithelium. We developed a robust, high-resolution PCR-SSP genotyping method that can be incorporated into the standard ‘Phototyping’ system and which effectively identifies 46 of 54 MICA alleles, and all 17 MICB alleles. We applied this system in combination with microsatellite genotyping of the exon 5 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) to the investigation of genetic susceptibility to the inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. We studied 248 patients with Crohn's disease, 329 with ulcerative colitis and 354 ethnically matched controls. Linkage disequilibrium patterns between HLA-B, MICA and MICB are presented. Analysis by individual allele or by multilocus haplotype failed to identify any significant disease associations.