The pathology, frequency and diagnostic implications of 'no visible lesion' (NVL) tuberculosis (Tb), i.e. infection with Mycobacterium bovis in the absence of macroscopic lesions, are described in a wide taxonomic range of wildlife hosts. Information collected and evaluated on the definition and occurrence of NVL Tb, histopathological characteristics, post-mortem techniques to detect minimal lesions, and diagnostic difficulties revealed most Tb-infected individuals with NVL had minute tuberculous lesions, which were difficult to see by eye. Acid-fast organisms (AFO) were sometimes detected in the lesions. Ideally, mycobacterial culture of pools of lymph nodes and/or oropharyngeal tonsils is necessary for the accurate diagnosis of Tb in the absence of macroscopic lesions. At a very minimum, the diagnostic methods applied for studying the prevalence of Tb in the population should be clearly described, to allow comparison between studies.