The European Commission (EC) supports a large number of research activities in tuberculosis through the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Development (FP). By utilizing a variety of funding instruments, the EC has established a mixed portfolio of research projects, ranging from small discovery projects to large multidisciplinary consortia with sufficient critical mass to undertake translational and clinical research. The European investments in TB research have generated promising results with new vaccine candidates, drug leads, diagnostic markers and basic research results starting to emerge. In the light of a rapidly changing global research environment it has therefore become timely to review and update the priorities for TB research. To facilitate this process, a high-level conference on "Challenges for the future: research on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis" was convened in Brussels on November 2008. This review gives an overview of the present portfolio of EC funded TB research, and summarises the conclusions from the conference on future perspectives for TB research in Europe and beyond.