New international standards no longer require directly observed therapy for all tuberculosis (TB) patients, but state that practitioners must be capable of assessing adherence and addressing poor adherence. Mass-produced electronic medication monitors, which record removal of medication from a container, could help overcome the problem of assessing treatment adherence accurately even in poor countries. Both health facilities and community workers could dispense drugs for self-administered treatment in medication monitors and retrieve the adherence record with inexpensive built-in displays. These devices could keep the adherence record from the beginning of therapy for managing patients who move. Pharmacists using medication monitors could provide surveillance of self-administered treatment prescribed by private physicians with less adherent patients referred to the health departments. Less adherent patients could be managed with focused counselling, directly observed therapy when necessary, and extensions in treatment duration. Removal of the directly observed therapy burden would encourage patients to seek free high-quality supervised pubic care and help expand effective TB treatment services. If resources saved by giving less directly observed therapy were focused on poorly adherent patients, medication monitor-based programmes could create less acquired drug resistance than overwhelmed treatment programmes that attempt but fail to give uninterrupted directly observed therapy to all patients.