Abstract Background Multi-parent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) populations are a newly established tool to dissect quantitative traits. We developed the high resolution MAGIC wheat population WM-800, consisting of 910 F4:6 lines derived from intercrossing eight recently released European winter wheat cultivars. Results Genotyping WM-800 with 7849 SNPs revealed a low mean genetic similarity of 59.7% between MAGIC lines. WM-800 harbours distinct genomic regions exposed to segregation distortion. These are mainly located on chromosomes 2 to 6 of the wheat B genome where founder specific DNA segments were positively or negatively selected. This suggests adaptive selection of individual founder alleles during population development. The application of a genome-wide association study identified 14 quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling plant height in WM-800, including the known semi-dwarf genes Rht-B1 and Rht-D1 and a potentially novel QTL on chromosome 5A. Additionally, epistatic effects controlled plant height. For example, two loci on chromosomes 2B and 7B gave rise to an additive epistatic effect of 13.7 cm. Conclusion The present study demonstrates that plant height in the MAGIC-WHEAT population WM-800 is mainly determined by large-effect QTL and di-genic epistatic interactions. As a proof of concept, our study confirms that WM-800 is a valuable tool to dissect the genetic architecture of important agronomic traits.