[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We explored a possible role of HLA class II genes in determining the susceptibility to Trypanosoma cruzi infection as well as in the development of chagasic heart disease in a rural mestizo population from Arequipa (Southern Peru). HLA-DRB1 and DQB1 polymorphisms were determined in 85 seropositive (asymptomatic, n=52; cardiomyopathic, n=33) and 87 seronegative individuals. We observed that the DRB1*14-DQB1*0301 haplotype correlates with not having T. cruzi infection in a highly endemic area (OR=0.26 (0.12–0.63); Pc=0.01). This protective association is a dominant trait. We found no differences in the allelic or haplotypic distributions we examined between asymptomatic and cardiomyopathic patients in this population. Our data offer indirect but compelling evidence that polymorphism in HLA region is involved in a differential susceptibility to T. cruzi chronic infection.