A study aimed at describing the magnitude and distribution of gross lesions compatible with bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in Ethiiopian slaughter cattle in five abattoirs (four municipal and one export) located in various cattle husbandry systems in Ethiopia was carried out from July 2006 to January 2007 using detailed meat inspection procedure. Five representative abattoirs (four municipal and one export) located in distinct livestock management systems were selected. A total of 3322 cattle; 2876 (86.6%) male, 446 (13.4%) female; 3094 (93.1%) indigenous zebu, 140 (4.2%) crossbred and 88 (2.7%) pure exotic cattle were included in the study. A nine-year meat inspection record was also analyzed to elucidate the trend of BTB in the local cattle population.Of the carcasses inspected, 337 (10.2%, 95%CI= [9.2-11.2]) had lesions suggestive of tuberculosis, 69 (20.5%) generalized and 268 (79.5%) localized.TB prevalence showed a marked variation between categories of age, breed, class of animals, abattoir, geographic origin and husbandry system. It was higher in old and young animals than middle age group; in exotic than local breed; in calves than other classes of animals. The highest and lowest prevalence of TB was recorded in Adama (24.7%, 95%CI= [21.1-28.7]) and Yabello abattoirs (4.2%, 95%CI= [2.6-6.6]), respectively. Cattle whose origin was from Addis Ababa and its surrounding areas had higher prevalence of TB infection (23.9%, 95%CI= [17.6-31.5]).Cattle maintained in dairy farms had high degree of exposure (23.9%, 95%CI= [16.7-32.9]) to the infection than those maintained in other types of management system. Analysis of meat inspection records also revealed an increasing incidence of TB over the years. Our study demonstrated a high prevalence of tuberculosis in Ethiopian slaughter cattle and this could infer to similar scenario in a reference cattle population in the country. In view of Ethiopia's increasing involvement in livestock export trade, the reported high prevalence of tuberculosis could be a major obstacle, particularly at this moment when sanitary requirements from importing countries are so much strict. Furthermore, the growing concern over increasing incidence of tuberculosis/HIV/AIDS co-infection, the high incidence of extra- pulmonary tuberculosis and a high risk of acquiring zoonotic tuberculosis among the majority of the population emphasize the need for paying the necessary attention towards the control of bovine tuberculosis.