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To understand the risk of tuberculosis (TB) infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who required tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) antagonist treatment.Patients with RA and AS who were screened for infliximab and etanercept treatment for up to 6 months were entered in a registry between 2003 and 2005. The purified protein derivative (PPD) test and chest anteroposterior and lateral view X-ray were performed at screening. The risk of TB infection in theses patients was observed during follow up.Among 67 RA patients screened, a positive PPD reaction was found in one patient. Of the 169 AS patients screened, 23 were positive for the PPD reaction, two had pulmonary TB calcinosis and two were diagnosed as having pulmonary TB. The incidence of PPD positive reaction and pulmonary TB calcinosis or active TB in our screened RA and AS patients was significantly lower than that reported in the recent fourth national TB infection rates and prevalence (P < 0.01). Only one patient with RA developed neck lymph node TB 6 months after completion of infliximab infusion.Patients with AS and RA are not at an increased risk of TB infection if screened properly before short course treatment with anti-TNF-α agents.