Alopecia areata (AA) is an organ-specific and cell-mediated autoimmune disease involving hair loss, but its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. Many autoimmune diseases are genetically associated with alleles of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes within the major histocompatibility complex. Associations between AA and HLA genes were previously observed in some different ethnic groups. However, the results were inconsistent, and a primary susceptibility HLA gene and/or region has not yet been assigned for AA. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether an allele of the HLA-C locus, HLA-C07:04, which was strongly associated with AA in Chinese Hans, could be replicated in the Japanese population. The HLA-C locus was genotyped by the SSO method using 156 AA patients and 560 healthy controls. As a consequence, among the 17 alleles detected, only two alleles, C04:01 (OR = 2.25, CI 95 % = 1.35-3.75, P = 1.84E-03) and C15:02 (OR = 2.52, CI 95 % = 1.37-4.64, P = 2.90E-03), were significantly associated with AA after Bonferroni correction. Further, the stratification analysis suggested that C04:01, C07:02, and C15:02 represented different AA genetic risk factors in each sub-phenotype. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.