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Genotypic variability based genome-wide association studies (vGWASs) can identify potentially interacting loci without prior knowledge of the interacting factors. We report a two-stage approach to make vGWAS applicable to diseases: firstly using a mixed model approach to partition dichotomous phenotypes into additive risk and non-additive environmental residuals on the liability scale and secondly using the Levene’s (Brown-Forsythe) test to assess equality of the residual variances across genotype groups per marker. We found widespread significant (P < 2.5e-05) vGWAS signals within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) across all three study cohorts of rheumatoid arthritis. We further identified 10 epistatic interactions between the vGWAS signals independent of the MHC additive effects, each with a weak effect but jointly explained 1.9% of phenotypic variance. PTPN22 was also identified in the discovery cohort but replicated in only one independent cohort. Combining the three cohorts boosted power of vGWAS and additionally identified TYK2 and ANKRD55. Both PTPN22 and TYK2 had evidence of interactions reported elsewhere. We conclude that vGWAS can help discover interacting loci for complex diseases but require large samples to find additional signals.