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To determine the burden of disease in a unique sample of patients with uveitis from a rural South African setting.Data in this cross-sectional study were collected from patients presenting with uveitis (n=103) at the ophthalmology outpatient department of three hospitals in rural South Africa. Demographic and clinical data were collected, and laboratory analysis of aqueous humour, serological evaluation and routine diagnostics for tuberculosis (TB) were performed.Sixty-six (64%) participants were HIV infected. Uveitis was predominantly of infectious origin (72%) followed by idiopathic (16%) and autoimmune (12%). Infectious uveitis was attributed to herpes virus (51%), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (24%) and Treponema pallidum (7%) infection. HIV-infected individuals were more likely to have infectious aetiology of uveitis compared with HIV-uninfected individuals (83% vs 51%; p=0.001).Microbial aetiology of uveitis is common in areas where HIV and TB are endemic. In these settings, a high index of suspicion for infectious origin of uveitis is warranted.