The nucleotide-binding site-leucine-rich repeat (NBS-LRR)-encoding gene family has attracted much research interest because approximately 75% of the plant disease resistance genes that have been cloned to date are from this gene family. We cloned the NBS-LRR-encoding genes from polyploid cotton by a polymerase chain reaction-based approach. A sample of 150 clones was selected from the NBS-LRR gene sequence library and was sequenced, and 61 resistance gene analogs (RGA) were identified. Sequence analysis revealed that RGA are abundant and highly diverged in the cotton genome and could be categorized into 10 distinct subfamilies based on the similarities of their nucleotide sequences. The numbers of members vary many fold among different subfamilies, and gene index analysis showed that each of the subfamilies is at a different stage of RGA family evolution. Genetic mapping of a selection of RGA indicates that the RGA reside on a limited number of the cotton chromosomes, with those from a single subfamily tending to cluster and two of the RGA loci being colocalized with the cotton bacterial blight resistance genes. The distribution of RGA between the two subgenomes A and D of cotton is uneven, with RGA being more abundant in the A subgenome than in the D subgenome. The data provide new insights into the organization and evolution of the NBS-LRR-encoding RGA family in polyploid plants.