Environmental gradients generate countless ecological niches in deep-sea hydrothermal vent systems, which foster diverse microbial communities. The majority of distinct microbial lineages in these communities occur in very low abundance. However, the ecological role and distribution of rare and abundant lineages, particularly in deep, hot subsurface environments, remain unclear. Here, we use 16S rRNA tag sequencing to describe biogeographic patterning and microbial community structure of both rare and abundant archaea and bacteria in hydrothermal vent systems. We show that while rare archaeal lineages and almost all bacterial lineages displayed geographically restricted community structuring patterns, the abundant lineages of archaeal communities displayed a much more cosmopolitan distribution. Finally, analysis of one high-volume, high-temperature fluid sample representative of the deep hot biosphere described a unique microbial community that differed from microbial populations in diffuse flow fluid or sulfide samples, yet the rare thermophilic archaeal groups showed similarities to those that occur in sulfides. These results suggest that while most archaeal and bacterial lineages in vents are rare and display a highly regional distribution, a small percentage of lineages, particularly within the archaeal domain, are successful at widespread dispersal and colonization.