Forty-five cases of tuberculous meningitis at a large urban medical center were reviewed. Reasons for the continued incidence, prognostic factors, and current therapy of this life-threatening form of tuberculosis were examined. Thirty-nine of 45 patients were black, Hispanic, and/or 65 years of age or older (87%). Underlying conditions included alcohol abuse in 12, intravenous drug abuse in 7, recent steroid therapy in 4, head trauma in 4, recent pregnancy in 4, and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in 1. Thirty-four patients (76%) presented with altered mental status and/or focal neurologic findings. Significant mortality (31%) occurred despite the administration of antituberculous therapy to all but 1 patient. Six of 14 deaths (43%) occurred in the first week of hospitalization. One-third of survivors had neurologic sequelae at the time of follow-up. Neurologic deficits on admission, advanced age, and alcohol abuse were frequent among those who succumbed. Early recognition and treatment in hospital failed to improve outcome in advanced cases. From these findings we conclude that both aggressive treatment of primary tuberculous infections as well as prevention of secondary cases are necessary to effect any further reduction in the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of tuberculous meningitis.