The major histocompatibility complex (MHC), with its extraordinary levels of genetic variation, is thought to be an essential aspect of the ability of an organism to recognize different parasites and pathogens. It has also been proposed to regulate reproductive processes in many aspects. Here we examine the genetic variation of the second exon of the MHC class II B genes of the crested ibis, an endangered species known to descend from just two breeding pairs rediscovered in 1981. Only five alleles are identified by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis of 36 samples taken from both wild and captive populations, and a comparatively low level of divergence between MHC alleles is observed. We suggest that representative sampling of individuals with most of the different MHC allele genotypes to constitute a founder population, together with the monitoring of the pathogen status of candidate sites before release, is of great importance for raising the success rate of reintroduction for the crested ibis.