The Hero gene of tomato is a broad spectrum resistance gene that confers a high level of resistance to all pathotypes of the potato cyst nematodes Globodera rostochiensis and partial resistance to G. pallida. The gene was identified by map-based cloning, sequencing and complementation analysis of two susceptible tomato lines with an array of 13 overlapping cosmids spanning a total distance of 135 kb. Hero encodes a protein with a nucleotide-binding site (NBS) and a leucine-rich-repeat (LRR) domain and is a member of a gene family of 14 highly homologous genes, which are clustered within a continuous 118-kb region. The isolated Hero gene displayed resistance to various G. rostochiensis pathotypes and partial resistance to G. pallida pathotype Pa2/3 in transgenic tomato lines. None of the Hero homologues conferred resistance to G. rostochiensis pathotypes. Hero can be distinguished from its homologues by the length of a compound hexanucleotide microsatellite, which codes for a charged and repetitive amino acid domain within the LRR. We propose that the expansion of this microsatellite may be involved in the evolution of the Hero resistance gene.