The purpose of this clinical review was to review clinical presentations, laboratory, and radiologic findings and difficulties on management of tuberculous spondylitis from a series of 40 cases. We carried out a retrospective analysis of 40 adult patients (50% male) with tuberculous spondylitis between January 1997 and December 2003. Infection was diagnosed in patients having a presentation compatible with characteristic histologic and/or microbiologic evidence of tuberculous spondylitis and diagnostic radiographic features, or following adequate response to antituberculous therapy with highly suggestive imaging features. Outcome was assessed according to clinical, radiologic, and laboratory criteria. Mean age was 44.7 +/- 19 years. Thirty percent of patients had a history of contact with a patient having active pulmonary tuberculosis. The most frequent symptom and sign were back pain (92.5%) and, spinal tenderness (55%). Magnetic resonance imaging was found to be the most helpful technique for diagnosis. Lumbar spine was the most common affected region (82.5%). Thirty (75%) patients had paraspinal abscess and, 4 (10%) had concomitant sacroihitis. Spinal biopsy had a yield of 76.5%, 52.9%. and 47% granulomas, positive culture, and acid-fast smear, respectively. Resistance to antituberculous drugs was 44.4%. Although medical treatment alone was given in 15% cases, 85% required additional surgical intervention. The mean duration of therapy was 12 12 months. The improvement without sequela was 77.5% of the patients. In developing countries, diagnostic delay in tuberculous spondylitis is still common and disastrous. Bacteriologic confirmation and susceptibility testing should be achievable in all adult cases.