We examined patterns of nucleotide diversity at a genomic region containing two linked candidate disease resistance (NBS-LRR) genes in seven populations of the outcrossing plant Arabidopsis lyrata. In comparison with two adjacent control genes and neutral reference genes across the genome, the NBS-LRR genes exhibited elevated nonsynonymous variation and a large number of major-effect polymorphisms causing early stop codons and/or frameshift mutations. In contrast, analysis of synonymous diversity provided no evidence that the region was subject to long-term balancing selection or recent selective sweeps in any of the seven populations surveyed. Also in contrast with earlier surveys of one of these R genes, there was no evidence that the resistance genes or the major-effect mutations were subject to elevated differentiation between populations. We suggest that conditional neutrality in the absence of the corresponding pathogen, rather than long-term balancing selection or local adaptation, may in some circumstances be a significant cause of elevated functional polymorphism at R genes. In contrast with the R genes, analysis of diversity and differentiation at the flanking FERONIA locus showed high population divergence, suggesting local adaptation on this locus controlling male–female signalling during fertilization.