Eating raw pork and/or liver is a custom of the Bai ethnic group in China. Most people living in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, southwestern China are of Bai ethnicity. Little is known of the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in Bai and Han ethnic populations in this region. In the present survey, a total of 555 and 595 blood samples were obtained from Bai and Han ethnic groups in Dali urban and rural areas, respectively. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to examine T. gondii IgG antibodies. Total positive rate of anti-T. gondii IgG in Bai and Han groups in this region was 21·6% (248/1150). The total seroprevalence of T. gondii was significantly higher in the Bai ethnic group (32·3%, 179/555) than in the Han ethnic group (11·6%, 69/595) (P < 0·01). The results of statistical analysis indicated that there was no significant difference between cat feeding/non-cat feeding groups in the Bai ethnic group, the most important risk factor was consumption of raw pork and/or liver for the Bai group, but feeding a cat may be the main route of T. gondii infection for the Han group. Therefore, it is essential to implement integrated strategies to prevent and control T. gondii infection in this unique region of the world.