Animals are known to select mates to maximize the genetic diversity of their offspring in order to achieve immunity against a broader range of pathogens. Although several bird species preferentially mate with partners that are dissimilar at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), it remains unknown whether they can use olfactory cues to assess MHC similarity with potential partners. Here we combined gas chromatography data with genetic similarity indices based on MHC to test whether similarity in preen secretion chemicals correlated with MHC relatedness in the black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), a species that preferentially mates with genetically dissimilar partners. We found that similarity in preen secretion chemicals was positively correlated with MHC relatedness in male-male and male-female dyads. This study provides the first evidence that preen secretion chemicals can encode information on MHC relatedness and suggests that odor-based mechanisms of MHC-related mate choice may occur in birds.