Bovine tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium bovis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex), is a zoonotic disease that affects cattle worldwide. The bacterium infects other animal species, both domesticated and wild, and this range of hosts complicates attempts to control or eradicate the disease. Despite advances in the characterization of the mechanisms involved in host-pathogen interactions and host cell responses to M. tuberculosis complex in human, bovine and mouse cells, differentially expressed genes in tissue biopsies of naturally occurring tuberculous and nontuberculous exposed individuals have been poorly characterized. In this study, differential gene expression was analysed using suppression-subtractive hybridization in oropharyngeal tonsils and mandibular lymph nodes of field-collected tuberculous and nontuberculous European wild boars from a tuberculosis-endemic area of Spain. Real-time PCR and semiquantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR of selected genes confirmed the results of the suppression-subtractive hybridization analysis. Protein expression of selected differentially expressed genes was analysed by radial immunodiffusion or immunohistochemistry. Differential gene expression varied among tuberculous and non-tuberculous groups and between tonsils and lymph nodes. Single and multiple cellular mechanisms were affected, including signal transduction, immune response, inflammation, stress, apoptosis/antiapoptosis, cell structure, adhesion and transport, protein and DNA/RNA metabolism and enzymatic processes. These results demonstrate the modulation of gene expression by mycobacterial infection in tonsils and mandibular lymph nodes of European wild boars naturally exposed to M. bovis, and provide a basis for defining host-pathogen interactions and the mechanism of protective immunity.