There are 9 million cases of active tuberculosis reported annually; however, an estimated one-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and remains asymptomatic. Of these latent individuals, only 5-10% will develop active tuberculosis disease in their lifetime. CD4(+) T cells, as well as the cytokines IL-12, IFN-γ, and TNF, are critical in the control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, but the host factors that determine why some individuals are protected from infection while others go on to develop disease are unclear. Genetic factors of the host and of the pathogen itself may be associated with an increased risk of patients developing active tuberculosis. This review aims to summarize what we know about the immune response in tuberculosis, in human disease, and in a range of experimental models, all of which are essential to advancing our mechanistic knowledge base of the host-pathogen interactions that influence disease outcome.