The present study aimed to investigate the molecular etiology of nonsyndromic hearing impairment (HI) in hearing impaired populations of Hui, Tibetan, and Tu ethnicities in northwest China. A total of 283 unrelated subjects with HI who attended special education schools in northwest China were enrolled in the present study. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in three common deafness‑related genes, gap junction protein β2 (GJB2), solute carrier family 26 member 4 (SLC26A4) and mitochondrially encoded 12S RNA (mtDNA12SrRNA), were detected using a SNPscan technique. GJB2 mutations were detected in 14.89% of Hui patients, 9.37% of Tibetan patients and 11.83% of Tu patients. The most prevalent GJB2 mutation in the Hui and Tu patients was c.235delC. In the Tibetan patients, the c.109G>A SNP exhibited the highest allele frequency. SLC26A4 mutations were detected in 10.64% of Hui patients, 6.25% of Tibetan patients, and 8.6% of Tu patients. The most common SLC26A4 mutation was c.919‑2A>Gin the Hui, Tibetan, and Tu patients, and the second most common SLC26A4 mutations in these patients were c.1517T>G, c.1226G>A andc.2168A>G, respectively. The mutation rates ofmtDNA12SrRNA in the Hui, Tibetan, and Tu patients were 1.06, 5.21, and 5.38%, respectively. These findings demonstrate that the mutation spectra of these deafness‑related genes are unique amongst these three ethnic groups. This information will be helpful in designing a protocol for genetic testing for deafness and for achieving accurate molecular diagnoses in northwest China.