Background Liver cirrhosis (LC) is caused by numerous chronic liver diseases and its complications are associated with qualitative and quantitative alterations of the gut microbiota. Previous studies have revealed the characteristics of gut microbiota in Han Chinese patients with LC and different compositions of gut microbiota were reported between the Tibetan and Han Chinese populations. This study was designed to evaluate the unique features of the gut microbiota of Tibetans and compare the differences of gut microbiota between Tibetan and Han Chinese patients with LC. Methods Thirty-six patients with liver cirrhosis and nineteen healthy volunteers, from both Tibetan and Han Chinese populations, were enrolled and fecal samples were collected for 16S rRNA gene sequencing analyses. Results Significant differences were found in the gut microbiota of healthy volunteers and between Tibetan and Han Chinese patients with LC. In the Han Chinese patients with cirrhosis (HLC) group the relative abundances of the phylum Bacteroidetes was significantly reduced (P Conclusion Our findings showed how the intestinal bacterial community shifted in Tibetan patients with cirrhosis.