Caucasians carry TNFA-308*2 in the 8.1 ancestral haplotype (AH) (HLA-A1,B8,DR3). In Gambians, TNFA-308*2 occurs without HLA-B8 or -DR3, suggesting an independent effect of TNFA-308 on disease. Hence we sought a segment of the 8.1 AH in Gambians. BAT1 (intron 10)*2 was selected as a specific marker of the haplotype and was found with TNFA-308*2 in Gambians. Samples homozygous at TNFA-308 and BAT1 (intron 10) demonstrated identity between the African TNFA-308*2 haplotype, the 8.1AH and the Asian diabetogenic 58.1AH (HLA-A33,B58,DR3) across a region spanning BAT1, ATP6G, IKBL, LTA, TNFA, LTB, LST-1 and AIF-1. Conservation of this block in geographically distinct populations suggests a common evolutionary origin and challenges current views of the role of TNFA-308*2 in disease.