Rheumatoid arthritis (RA [MIM 180300]) is a complex, polygenic inflammatory autoimmune disease, resulting from interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Some of the RA-associated HLA-DRB1 alleles have shared epitope, but their distribution varies among different racial/ethnic groups. This study was aimed at investigating the distribution of HLA-DRB1 alleles in patients with RA in eastern Black Sea region of Turkey. DNA samples of 320 patients with RA and 360 healthy controls were studied for the determination of HLA-DRB1 allele distribution using PCR-SSP method. The allele frequencies of HLA-DRB1*01, *04, and *09 were higher in patients with RA compared with the controls (P < 0.005, P < 0.0001, and P < 0.01, respectively). On the other hand, in patients with RA, HLA-DRB1*13 allele was lower than the controls (P < 0.001). Of the HLA-DRB1*04 subgroups, *0401 (40.83% vs. 18.75%, P < 0.001) was the most frequent allele in patients with RA, while DRB1*0402 (30.00% vs. 12.50%, P < 0.005) allele in the controls. HLA-DRB1 allele frequencies in the patients with RA and the controls showed Hardy-Weinberg rule compliance. Results of this study indicate that HLA-DRB1*01, *04, and *09 alleles were associated with RA, and HLA-DRB1*13 was protective allele against RA. Among the subgroups of HLA-DRB1*04, *0401 was detected to be RA associated, while *0402 was being protective. These results have some differences compared with previous reports originating from other regions of Turkey.