In natural populations, genetic variation affects resistance to disease. Whether that genetic variation comprises lots of small-effect polymorphisms or a small number of large-effect polymorphisms has implications for adaptation, selection and how genetic variation is maintained in populations. Furthermore, how much genetic variation there is, and the genes that underlie this variation, affects models of co-evolution between parasites and their hosts. We are studying the genetic variation that affects the resistance of Drosophila melanogaster to its natural pathogen — the vertically transmitted sigma virus. We have carried out three separate quantitative trait locus mapping analyses to map gene variants on the second chromosome that cause variation in the rate at which males transmit the infection to their offspring. All three crosses identified a locus in a similar chromosomal location that causes a large drop in the rate at which the virus is transmitted. We also found evidence for an additional smaller-effect quantitative trait locus elsewhere on the chromosome. Our data, together with previous experiments on the sigma virus and parasitoid wasps, indicate that the resistance of D. melanogaster to co-evolved pathogens is controlled by a limited number of major-effect polymorphisms.