Background: The New Zealand native frogs, family Leiopelmatidae, are among the most archaic in the world. Leiopelma hochstetteri (Hochstetter's frog) is a small, semi-aquatic frog with numerous, fragmented populations scattered across New Zealand's North Island. We characterized a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II B gene (DAB) in L. hochstetteri from a spleen transcriptome, and then compared its diversity to neutral microsatellite markers to assess the adaptive genetic diversity of five populations ("evolutionarily significant units", ESUs). Results: L. hochstetteri possessed very high MHC diversity, with 74 DAB alleles characterized. Extremely high differentiation was observed at the DAB locus, with only two alleles shared between populations, a pattern that was not reflected in the microsatellites. Clustering analysis on putative peptide binding residues of the DAB alleles indicated four functional supertypes, all of which were represented in 4 of 5 populations, albeit at different frequencies. Otawa was an exception to these observations, with only two DAB alleles present. Conclusions: This study of MHC diversity highlights extreme population differentiation at this functional locus. Supertype differentiation was high among populations, suggesting spatial and/or temporal variation in selection pressures. Low DAB diversity in Otawa may limit this population's adaptive potential to future pathogenic challenges.