BACKGROUND: The association between HLA-DRB1 gene and severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been documented in various reports. Especially, DRB1*0405 allele shows significant association with RA in Korean patients. DRB1*0405 typing has been performed by the sequence based typing method (SBT), that is a difficult and expensive method. So we tried to replace it with a simple and inexpensive method. METHODS: We performed the HLA-DRB1*0405 typing using PCR-SSP technique with sequence specific primers of 3 pair in 298 Koreans. These results were compared with those of high resolution sequence based typing (SBT) method. RESULTS: Of 298 samples typed with the high resolution SBT method, 60 samples were HLA-DRB1*04 positive and showed 9 subgroups of HLA-DRB1*04 and 26 samples were HLA- DRB1*0405 positive. With the PCR-SSP method, same 26 samples were HLA-DRB1*0405 positive, showing 100% correspondence between two methods to detect HLA-DRB1*0405 CONCLUSIONS: Using PCR-SSP method to type HLA-DRB1*0405 is a very useful tools for studying the association between rheumatoid arthritis and HLA-DRB1*0405 from a practical and economic view.