The human gut microbiota is a complex system that is essential to the health of the host. Increasing evidence suggests that the gut microbiota may play an important role in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC). In this study, we used pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene V3 region to characterize the fecal microbiota of 19 patients with CRC and 20 healthy control subjects. The results revealed striking differences in fecal microbial population patterns between these two groups. Partial least-squares discriminant analysis showed that 17 phylotypes closely related to Bacteroides were enriched in the gut microbiota of CRC patients, whereas nine operational taxonomic units, represented by the butyrate-producing genera Faecalibacterium and Roseburia, were significantly less abundant. A positive correlation was observed between the abundance of Bacteroides species and CRC disease status (R = 0.462, P = 0.046 < 0.5). In addition, 16 genera were significantly more abundant in CRC samples than in controls, including potentially pathogenic Fusobacterium and Campylobacter species at genus level. The dysbiosis of fecal microbiota, characterized by the enrichment of potential pathogens and the decrease in butyrate-producing members, may therefore represent a specific microbial signature of CRC. A greater understanding of the dynamics of the fecal microbiota may assist in the development of novel fecal microbiome-related diagnostic tools for CRC.