Abstract Background One of the most common and recurrent vaginal infections is bacterial vaginosis (BV). The diagnosis is based on changes to the “normal” vaginal microbiome; however, the normal microbiome appears to differ according to reproductive status and ethnicity, and even among individuals within these groups. The Amsel criteria and Nugent score test are widely used for diagnosing BV; however, these tests are based on different criteria, and so may indicate distinct changes in the vaginal microbial community. Nevertheless, few studies have compared the results of these test against metagenomics analysis. Methods Vaginal flora samples from 77 participants were classified according to the Amsel criteria and Nugent score test. The microbiota composition was analyzed using 16S ribosome RNA gene amplicon sequencing. Bioinformatics analysis and multivariate statistical analysis were used to evaluate the microbial diversity and function. Results Only 3 % of the participants diagnosed BV negative using the Amsel criteria (A−) were BV-positive according to the Nugent score test (N+), while over half of the BV-positive patients using the Amsel criteria (A+) were BV-negative according to the Nugent score test (N−). Thirteen genera showed significant differences in distribution among BV status defined by BV tests (e.g., A − N−, A + N− and A + N+). Variations in the four most abundant taxa, Lactobacillus, Gardnerella, Prevotella, and Escherichia, were responsible for most of this dissimilarity. Furthermore, vaginal microbial diversity differed significantly among the three groups classified by the Nugent score test (N−, N+, and intermediate flora), but not between the Amsel criteria groups. Numerous predictive microbial functions, such as bacterial chemotaxis and bacterial invasion of epithelial cells, differed significantly among multiple BV test, but not between the A− and A+ groups. Conclusions Metagenomics analysis can greatly expand our current understanding of vaginal microbial diversity in health and disease. Metagenomics profiling may also provide more reliable diagnostic criteria for BV testing.