The timing and mechanisms of uplift in southeastern Tibet remain disputed. To address this debate, we conducted structural and morphological analyses of the Yulong thrust-belt; we also reconstruct the cooling and exhumation history of the Jianchuan basin in the hanging wall of the thrust system using inverse thermal modeling of apatite fission-track and (U-Th)/He thermochronology data. Our results provide evidence for 2.3-3.2 km of rapid exhumation in the Jianchuan basin between ~28 and ~20 Ma, followed by limited exhumation of less than 0.2 km since then. The magnitude of basin exhumation is consistent with the present-day topographic step of 1.8-2.4 km across the Yulong and Chenghai thrust belts, as shown by morphometric analysis. We thus infer that the present-day morphology of the southeastern margin of Tibet results partly from thrusting along the Yulong thrust belt during the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene. This structure may be the southwest continuation of the Longmen Shan thrust belt, offset by the Xianshuihe fault in the Late Miocene. On a regional scale, the approximate synchronicity of exhumation in the hanging walls of the Yalong-Yulong and Longmen Shan thrust systems indicates that widespread crustal shortening and thickening took place in southeastern Tibet during the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene.