Tuvans are mainly distributed in Siberia (the Republic of Tuva), Mongolia, and China. The genetic origin of Chinese Tuvans remains controversial. The Tuvans in China were classified as Mongolians in the early 1950s by the National Ethnic Affairs Commission of China, but they defined themselves as a separate group. To resolve this dispute and determine their genetic relationships with the peoples in Central Asia, we randomly selected 150 male subjects from the Tuvans in the Altai region of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China. Fourteen Y chromosomal markers were genotyped using the RFLP method or direct sequencing. These haplogroup data were combined with public data for 15 populations in South Siberia and Central Asia. Tuvans in both China and the Republic of Tuva had the highest frequencies of haplogroups K-M9 and Q-M242. Principal component analysis demonstrated that the Tuvans in China were of a distinct cluster, separated from their neighbors, the Mongolians and Kazakhs, which finding was consistent with the Analysis of Molecular Variances. Further population tree analysis revealed that Tuvans were on a far-separated cluster from their neighbors. Based on these results, we propose that the Tuvans (in both China and the Republic of Tuva) constitute a group distinct from Mongolians and from other Central Asia populations. However, the genetic results might be the consequence of some evolutionary forces like genetic drift and founder effect, and do not necessarily reflect their ultimate origin. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.