Background: Previous studies have estimated the prevalence of tuberculosis and HIV infection in population subgroups in the UK. This study was undertaken to describe recent trends in the proportion of individuals with HIV infection among reported cases of tuberculosis in England and Wales, and to review the implications for clinical and public health care. Methods: A population-based matching study using national surveillance databases was used to investigate all persons aged 15 years and over reported with a diagnosis of tuberculosis to the Health Protection Agency in England and Wales in 1999-2003. Record linkage was used to match the national tuberculosis and HIV/ AIDS surveillance databases to identify all cases of tuberculosis and determine the proportion of patients with tuberculosis co-infected with HIV. The distribution and characteristics of the cases were determined and the trend examined by year. Results: Of 30 670 cases of tuberculosis reported in England and Wales between 1999 and 2003, an estimated 1743 (5.7%) were co-infected with HIV. There was a year on year increase in the proportion from 3.1% (169/5388) in 1999 to 8.3% (548/6584) in 2003 (p for trend <0.0001). Co-infected patients contributed to almost a third of the increase in the number of cases of tuberculosis during the 5 year period. Patients co-infected with HIV were predominantly those born abroad. 18.5% (n = 323) of co-infected patients had not been reported as active cases of tuberculosis on the national tuberculosis database. Conclusion: The proportion of patients with tuberculosis co-infected with HIV in England and Wales is increasing, with the greatest impact on those bom abroad regardless of their ethnic origin. With HIV infection contributing substantially to the increase in the number of cases of tuberculosis, close cooperation in the clinical management and accurate notification of patients is vital if appropriate care and public health action is to be achieved.