M. tuberculosis F15/LAM4/KZN has been associated with high transmission rates of drug resistant tuberculosis in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The current study elucidated the cytokine/chemokine responses induced by representatives of the F15/LAM4/KZN and other dominant strain families in pulmonary epithelial cells. Multiplex cytokine analyses were performed at 24, 48 and 72 h post infection of the A549 pulmonary epithelial cell line with the F15/LAM4/KZN, F28, F11, Beijing, Unique and H37Rv strains at an MOI of ˜10:1. Twenty-three anti- and pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines were detected at all-time intervals. Significantly high concentrations of IL-6, IFN-γ, TNF-α and G-CSF at 48 h, and IL-8, IFN-γ, TNF-α, G-CSF and GM-CSF at 72 h, were induced by the F28 and F15/LAM4/KZN strains, respectively. Lower levels of cytokines/chemokines were induced by either the Beijing or Unique strains at all three time intervals. All strains induced up-regulation of pathogen recognition receptors (PRRs) (TLR3 and TLR5) while only the F15/LAM4/KZN, F11 and F28 strains induced significant differential expression of TLR2 compared to the Beijing, Unique and H37Rv strains. The low induction of cytokines in epithelial cells by the Beijing strain correlates with its previously reported hypervirulent properties. High concentrations of cytokines and chemokines required for early protection against M. tuberculosis infections induced by the F15/LAM4/KZN and F28 strains suggests a lower virulence of these genotypes compared to the Beijing strain. These findings demonstrate the high diversity in host cytokine/chemokine response to early infection of pulmonary epithelial cells by different strains of M. tuberculosis.