Matching people across nonoverlapping camera views at different locations and different times, known as person reidentification, is both a hard and important problem for associating behavior of people observed in a large distributed space over a prolonged period of time. Person reidentification is fundamentally challenging because of the large visual appearance changes caused by variations in view angle, lighting, background clutter, and occlusion. To address these challenges, most previous approaches aim to model and extract distinctive and reliable visual features. However, seeking an optimal and robust similarity measure that quantifies a wide range of features against realistic viewing conditions from a distance is still an open and unsolved problem for person reidentification. In this paper, we formulate person reidentification as a relative distance comparison (RDC) learning problem in order to learn the optimal similarity measure between a pair of person images. This approach avoids treating all features indiscriminately and does not assume the existence of some universally distinctive and reliable features. To that end, a novel relative distance comparison model is introduced. The model is formulated to maximize the likelihood of a pair of true matches having a relatively smaller distance than that of a wrong match pair in a soft discriminant manner. Moreover, in order to maintain the tractability of the model in large scale learning, we further develop an ensemble RDC model. Extensive experiments on three publicly available benchmarking datasets are carried out to demonstrate the clear superiority of the proposed RDC models over related popular person reidentification techniques. The results also show that the new RDC models are more robust against visual appearance changes and less susceptible to model overfitting compared to other related existing models.