The success of breeding for barley leaf rust (BLR) resistance relies on regular discovery, characterization and mapping of new resistance sources. Greenhouse and field studies revealed that the barley cultivars Baronesse, Patty and RAH1995 carry good levels of adult plant resistance (APR) to BLR. Doubled haploid populations [(Baronesse/Stirling (B/S), Patty/Tallon (P/T) and RAH1995/Baudin (R/B)] were investigated in this study to understand inheritance and map resistance to BLR. The seedlings of two populations (B/S and R/B) segregated for leaf rust response that conformed to a single gene ratio (X21:1 = 0.12, P > 0.7 for B/S and X21:1 = 0.34, P > 0.5 for R/B) whereas seedlings of third population (P/T) segregated for two-gene ratio (X21:1 = 0.17, P > 0.6) when tested in greenhouse. It was concluded that the single gene in Baudin and one of the two genes in Tallon is likely Rph12, whereas gene responsible for seedling resistance in Stirling is Rph9.am (allele of Rph12). The second seedling gene in Tallon is uncharacterized. In the field, APR was noted in lines that were susceptible as seedlings. A range of disease responses (CI 5–90) was observed in all three populations. Marker trait association analysis detected three QTLs each in populations B/S (QRph.sun-2H.1, QRph.sun-5H.1 and QRph.sun-6H.1) and R/B (QRph.sun-1H, QRph.sun-2H.2, QRph.sun-3H and QRph.sun-6H.2), and four QTLs in population P/T (QRph.sun-6H.2, QRph.sun-1H.2, QRph.sun-5H.2 and QRph.sun-7H) that significantly contributed to low leaf rust disease coefficients. High frequency of QRph. sun-5H.1, QRph. sun-6H.1, QRph. sun-1H.1, QRph. sun-2H.2, QRph. sun-6H.2, QRph. sun-7H (based on presence of the marker, closely associated to the respective QTLs) was observed in international commercial barley germplasm and hence providing an opportunity for rapid integration into breeding programmes. The identified candidate markers closely linked to these QTLs will assist in selecting and assembling new APR gene combinations; expectantly this will help in achieving good levels of durable resistance for controlling BLR.