The rice Xa21 gene confers resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae pv oryzae in a race-specific manner. Analysis of the inheritance patterns and resistance spectra of transgenic plants carrying six Xa21 gene family members indicated that one member, designated Xa21D, displayed a resistance spectrum identical to that observed for Xa21 but conferred only partial resistance. Xa21D encodes a receptor-like protein carrying leucine-rich repeat (LRR) motifs in the presumed extracellular domain. The Xa21D transcript terminates shortly after the stop codon introduced by the retrotransposon Retrofit. Comparison of nucleotide substitutions in the LRR coding regions of Xa21 and Xa21D provided evidence of adaptive selection. Both functional and evolutionary evidence indicates that the Xa21D LRR domain controls race-specific pathogen recognition.