Tuberculosis is present in wild animal populations in North America, Europe, Africa and New Zealand. Some wild animal populations are a source of infection for domestic livestock and humans. An understanding of the potential of each wild animal population as a reservoir of infection for domestic animals is reached by determining the nature of the disease in each wild animal species, the routes of infection for domestic species and the risk of domestic animals encountering an infectious dose. The mere presence of infection in a wild animal population does not of itself provide evidence of a significant wildlife reservoir. Although at times counterintuitive, wildlife populations with high disease prevalence may not necessarily have a role in the epidemiology of disease in domestic livestock. The key concepts used in deciding whether an infected wild animal population is involved in the epidemiology of tuberculosis in domestic livestock is illustrated by reference to six well-researched cases: the feral pig (Suis scrofa) and feral Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Australia, white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Michigan, and the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and other species, such as the ferret (Mustela furo), in New Zealand. A detailed analysis of Mycobacterium bovis infection in the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) in Ireland and their role as a reservoir of infection for cattle is also presented.