To evaluate findings of active pulmonary tuberculosis on computed tomographic (CT) scans and their sequential changes before and after antituberculous chemotherapy, 29 patients with newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis and 12 patients with recent reactivation were studied prospectively. The diagnosis of active pulmonary tuberculosis was based on positive acid-fast bacilli in sputum (n = 29) and changes on serial radiographs obtained during treatment (n = 12). Twenty-six patients were followed up with CT during treatment for 1-20 months. Lungs from the cadavers of nine other patients, who died of pulmonary tuberculosis, were studied to provide a pathologic basis for diagnosis. At examination with CT, centrilobular lesions (nodules or branching linear structures 2-4 mm in diameter) were most commonly seen (n = 39 [95%]); in the 26 patients with follow-up, most of these lesions disappeared within 5 months after the start of treatment. In 11 of 12 patients with recent reactivation, CT clearly differentiated old fibrotic lesions from new active lesions. Lesions in and around the small airways appear to be the most characteristic CT feature of early active tuberculosis and may be a reliable criterion for disease activity.