Gravity data were analysed in the Ghadames Basin and surrounding regions in southern Tunisia in order to determine the basement structure of the region and its relationship to petroleum exploration in relatively unexplored basins. The analysis included the construction of regional Bouguer gravity anomaly and horizontal gravity gradient maps. These maps indicate that the Ghadames Basin is not a simple sag basin but consists of a series of sub-basins and uplifts. The northern boundary of the basin which we call the Telemzan–Ghadames transition zone is marked by a NE-trending high amplitude gravity gradient anomaly which decreases in amplitude toward the east and breaks into a series of north–south- and east–west-trending anomalies implying a more structurally complex region. When the known petroleum fields are overlain on to the gravity gradient anomaly maps, the fields mostly occur along or next to linear alignments of horizontal gravity gradient maxima. We interpret the correlation of the petroleum fields and horizontal gravity gradient maxima to indicate that the basement was involved in forming the petroleum traps. This study illustrates that a regional gravity analysis can be useful in determining where additional exploration can be applied in relatively unexplored basins.