The structure and diversity of bacterial communities associated with the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) of the eastern tropical South Pacific was studied through phylogenetic analysis. Clone libraries of 16S rRNA gene fragments were constructed using environmental DNA collected from the OMZ (60 m and 200 m), the sea surface (10 m), and the deep oxycline (450 m). At the class level, the majority of sequences affiliated to the γ- (53.7%) and α-Proteobacteria (19.7%), and to the Bacteroidetes (11.2%). A vertical partitioning of the bacterial communities was observed, with main differences between the suboxic OMZ and the more oxygenated surface and deep oxycline waters. At the surface, the microbial community was predominantly characterized by SAR86, Loktanella and unclassified Flavobacteriaceae, whereas the deeper layer was dominated by Sulfitobacter and unclassified Alteromonadaceae. In the OMZ, major constituents affiliated to the marine SAR11 clade and to thiotrophic γ-symbionts (25% of all sequences), a group not commonly found in pelagic waters. Sequences affiliating to the phylum Chloroflexi, to the AGG47 and SAR202 clades, to the δ-Proteobacteria, to the Acidobacteria, and to the ‘anammox group’ of the Planctomycetes were found exclusively in the OMZ. The bacterial richness in the OMZ was higher than in the oxic surface and deeper oxycline, as revealed by rarefaction analysis and the Chao1 richness estimator (surface: 45 ± 8, deeper oxycline: 76 ± 26; OMZ60m: 97 ± 33, OMZ200m: 109 ± 31). OMZ bacterial diversity indices (Fisher's: ∼30 ± 5, Shannon's: ∼3.31, inverse Simpson's: ∼20) were similar to those found in other pelagic marine environments. Thus, our results indicate a distinct and diverse bacterial community within the OMZ, with presumably novel and yet uncultivated bacterial lineages.