Maintaining genetic diversity is a major issue in conservation biology. In this study, we demonstrate the differences of genetic diversity levels between wild and captive individuals of Elliot's Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti. Wild individuals showed a higher genetic diversity level than that of the captive individuals. Nucleotide diversity and haplotype diversity of wild individuals were 0.00628 and 0.993, while those of captive individuals were 0.00150 and 0.584 respectively. Only 3 haplotypes of mtDNA control region sequence were identified among 36 captive individuals, while 16 unique haplotypes were identified among the 17 wild individuals in this study. One captive haplotype was shared by a wild individual from Anhui Province. It is concluded that a low number of founders was the likely reason for the lower level genetic diversity of the captive group. Careful genetic management is suggested for captive populations, particularly of such an endangered species, to maintain genetic variability levels.