The aim of this study was to assess differences in nutritional status and their association with circulating leptin levels in the indigenous Tepehuán people of Mezquital Durango and Mestizo populations of Durango City, Mexico. A group of 128 volunteers aged 18 through 59 years were recruited for the study: 60 indigenous Tepehuán from Mezquital and 68 Mestizo individuals from Durango City. The classification of nutritional status was through body mass index (BMI). Clinical evaluations, including anthropometry and lipid profiles, were performed to ascertain the health of the participants. Circulating leptin levels were determined in blood samples after at 08 hours of fasting. The healthy subjects were classified according to BMI: 32 Tepehuán and 30 Mestizo subjects were of normal weight (NW), and 28 Tepehuán and 38 Mestizo subjects were overweight or obese (OW/O). Both NW and OW/O Tepehuán subjects showed lower leptin concentrations than the comparable Mestizo subjects. Statistical analysis showed a negative Pearson's correlation (r = -0.5; P < 0.05) between BMI and leptin levels in NW Tepehuán subjects, but no significant correlation was found in other groups. The differences found in Tepehuán compared with Mestizo subjects might be explained by poor nutritional status, which leads to scarce adipose tissue and low levels of leptin synthesis. Leptin concentration and its relationship to BMI are associated with ethnicity.