Part of the reason for failing to bring about a more rapid reduction in tuberculosis incidence worldwide is the lack of effective involvement of all practitioners-public and private-in the provision of high quality tuberculosis care. While health-care providers who are part of national tuberculosis programmes have been trained and are expected to have adopted proper diagnosis, treatment, and public-health practices, the same is not likely to be true for non-programme providers. Studies of the performance of the private sector conducted in several different parts of the world suggest that poor quality care is common. The basic principles of care for people with, or suspected of having, tuberculosis are the same worldwide: a diagnosis should be established promptly; standardised treatment regimens should be used with appropriate treatment support and supervision; response to treatment should be monitored; and essential public-health responsibilities must be carried out. Prompt and accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment are essential for good patient care and tuberculosis control. All providers who undertake evaluation and treatment of patients with tuberculosis must recognise that not only are they delivering care to an individual, but they are also assuming an important public-health function. The International Standards for Tuberculosis Care (ISTC) describe a widely endorsed level of care that all practitioners should seek to achieve in managing individuals who have, or are suspected of having, tuberculosis. The document is intended to engage all care providers in delivering high quality care for patients of all ages, including those with smear-positive, smear-negative, and extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, tuberculosis caused by drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, and tuberculosis combined with HIV infection.