The AVR1-CO39 gene that came from a Magnaporthe grisea isolate from weeping lovegrass controls avirulence on the rice cultivar CO39. AVR1-CO39 was not present in the genome of the rice-infecting M. grisea isolate Guy11 from French Guyana, suggesting that the gene had been deleted. Molecular analysis of the deletion breakpoints in the AVR1-CO39 locus revealed the presence of a truncated copy of a previously unknown retrotransposon at the left-hand border. At the right-hand border was a truncated copy of another repetitive element that is present at multiple locations in the genome of Guy11. The structures of avr1-CO39 loci were further examined in 45 rice-infecting isolates collected in Brazil, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Mali, and the Philippines. Most isolates showed no hybridization signal with the AVR1-CO39 probe and had the same locus structure as Guy11. Some isolates from Japan showed a signal with the AVR1-CO39 probe, but the region specifying avirulence activity was rearranged. These findings suggest that widespread virulence to ‘CO39’ among rice-infecting M. grisea isolates is due to ancestral rearrangements at the AVR1-CO39 locus that may have occurred early in the evolution of pathogenicity to rice.