Women of European ancestry are more likely to harbour a Lactobacillus-dominated microbiome, whereas African American women are more likely to exhibit a diverse microbial profile. African American women are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis and are twice as likely to experience preterm birth. The objective of this study was to further characterize and contrast the vaginal microbial profiles in African American versus European ancestry women. Through the Vaginal Human Microbiome Project at Virginia Commonwealth University, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis was used to compare the microbiomes of vaginal samples from 1268 African American women and 416 women of European ancestry. The results confirmed significant differences in the vaginal microbiomes of the two groups and identified several taxa relevant to these differences. Major community types were dominated by Gardnerella vaginalis and the uncultivated bacterial vaginosis-associated bacterium-1 (BVAB1) that were common among African Americans. Moreover, the prevalence of multiple bacterial taxa that are associated with microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity and preterm birth, including Mycoplasma, Gardnerella, Prevotella and Sneathia, differed between the two ethnic groups. We investigated the contributions of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including pregnancy, body mass index, diet, smoking and alcohol use, number of sexual partners, and household income, to vaginal community composition. Ethnicity, pregnancy and alcohol use correlated significantly with the relative abundance of bacterial vaginosis-associated species. Trends between microbial profiles and smoking and number of sexual partners were observed; however, these associations were not statistically significant. These results support and extend previous findings that there are significant differences in the vaginal microbiome related to ethnicity and demonstrate that these differences are pronounced even in healthy women.