Renewed global interest and funding for tuberculosis (TB) has led to increased research and publications, with several recent advances. The increased incidence of drug resistant TB and emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB globally has strengthened the need for improved rapid diagnostics and better treatment regimens. The HIV and TB epidemics have further impacted on TB research, necessitating the development of better preventive and treatment strategies. Important recent strides in adult TB include more widespread validation of molecular techniques and advances in therapeutics, including major drug trials with existing and novel agents and even a putative new regimen. Studies in childhood TB have led to increased understanding of the paediatric burden, new possibilities for rapid diagnosis and advances in preventive strategies. There are still several research priorities that must be addressed including development of better diagnostics, defining biomarkers of TB disease or correlates of protection, shorter more effective regimens for prophylaxis and for treatment, and development of an improved safe vaccine that offers protection against pulmonary disease. Operational research to inform more widespread implementation of research findings is needed in order to benefit optimally from recent advances.