In total 31,669 blood samples were collected from 1187 flocks of 27 rare breeds of sheep in the UK, and their genotype profiles at the prion protein locus were determined. The frequencies of the five alleles varied widely among the breeds and some had only two of the alleles and others had all five; the average was three. The average allele frequencies across all 27 breeds were 49˙7 per cent for ARR, 4˙4 per cent for AHQ, 2˙7 per cent for ARH, 37˙4 per cent for ARQ and 5˙8 per cent for VRQ. The highest frequencies for each allele were 90˙7 per cent for ARR in the Leicester Longwool, 24˙7 per cent for AHQ in the Hebridean, 68˙7 per cent for ARH in the Manx Loghtan, 98˙7 per cent for ARQ in the North Ronaldsay and 28˙4 per cent for VRQ in the Boreray. All 27 breeds had the ARR allele, 21 had AHQ, 11 had ARH, 26 had ARQ and 20 had VRQ.