The genomic structure of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) region and variation in selected MHC class I related genes in Old World camels, Camelus bactrianus and Camelus dromedaries were studied. The overall genomic organization of the camel MHC region follows a general pattern observed in other mammalian species and individual MHC loci appear to be well conserved. Selected MHC class I genes B-67 and BL3-7 exhibited unexpectedly low variability, even when compared to other camel MHC class I related genes MR1 and MICA. Interspecific SNP and allele sharing are relatively common, and frequencies of heterozygotes are usually low. Such a low variation in a genomic region generally considered as one of the most polymorphic in vertebrate genomes is unusual. Evolutionary relationships between MHC class I related genes and their counterparts from other species seem to be rather complex. Often, they do not follow the general evolutionary history of the species concerned. Close evolutionary relationships of individual MHC class I loci between camels, humans and dogs were observed. Based on the results of this study and on our data on MHC class II genes, the extent and the pattern of polymorphism of the MHC region of Old World camelids differed from most mammalian groups studied so far. Camels thus seem to be an important model for our understanding of the role of genetic diversity in immune functions, especially in the context of unique features of their immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor genes. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.