The Southwest Indian Ridge, which is the slowest-spreading of the main ridges, separates the African and Antarctic plates. The slow expanding rate is associated with less density of hydrothermal vent fields, shorter longevity of hydrothermal activity, cold mantle temperatures and thick lithosphere. However, the microbial communities adapting to such specific characteristics of this area have remained largely unexplored. To study the microbial diversity at the Southwest Indian Ridge, we sampled three sediment cores in a newly found inactive vent field, the Tianzuo field, and used high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA genes to reveal the microbial composition. Microbial communities of three sampling sites were very similar at the surface, and underwent a gradient change along depth. Gammaproteobacteria, namely Alteromonadaceae, Nitrosococcus and the JTB255 marine benthic group, were the most dominant bacterial taxa. Marine Group I was the dominant archaeal taxon in our samples. In addition, microbial populations capable of ammonia oxidation, nitrite oxidation, sulfur oxidation and manganese oxidation were detected to be the main chemolithoautotrophs. The enrichment of sulfur-oxidizing and manganese-oxidizing bacteria was observed in deep layers. When compared with other vent fields along different ocean ridges, the Tianzuo field showed distinct composition in both archaeal and bacterial communities. These results provide the first view of microbial communities of the Tianzuo field at the Southwest Indian Ridge, and give a better understanding of metabolic potential possessed by the microbial populations.