This study presents bacterial population analyses of microbial communities inhabiting three sites of acid mine drainage (AMD) in the Shen-bu copper mine, Gansu Province, China. These sites were located next to acid-leached chalcopyrite slagheaps that had been abandoned since 1995. The pH values of these samples with high concentrations of metals ranged from 2.0 to 3.5. Amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) was used to characterize the bacterial population by amplifying the 16S rRNA gene of microorganisms. A total of 39 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were obtained from the three samples and sequenced from 384 clones. Sequence data and phylogenetic analyses showed that two dominant clones (JYC-1B, JYC-1D) in sample JYC-1 represented 69.5% of the total clones affiliated with Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans
), and the most dominant clones of JYC-2 and JYC-3 were affiliated with Caulobacter
). At the level of bacterial divisions, differences in the relative incidence of particular phylogenetic groups among the three samples and discrepancies in physicochemical characteristics suggested that the physico-chemical characteristics had an influence on phylogenetic diversity. Furthermore, the relationships between the discrepancies of physicochemical characteristics and the diversity of the bacteria communities in the three samples suggested that the biogeochemical properties, pH and concentration of soluble metal, could be key factors in controlling the structure of the bacterial population.