Objective: The chest radiography and TCT findings in children who had contacted with adult family members with active pulmonary tuberculosis were compared. The contributions of thoracic computed tomography to the diagnosis of tuberculosis were investigated. Methods and material: The children who were 0-16 years old (n = 173) and children of families with an adult member which was diagnosed as pulmonary tuberculosis were evaluated. The children were considered in two groups based on the absence (n = 125) or presence (n = 48) of complaints and/or ambiguous symptoms such as lack of appetite, mild cough, sweating, history of lung infection, low body weight and those with suspicious chest radiography findings (12 cases) were included in this study. Asymptomatic patients (n = 125) did not undergo TCT. Patients who had positive PPD skin tests only received isoniazid. If the TCT demonstrated enlarged lymph nodes or parenchymal lesions, minimally active pulmonary tuberculosis was diagnosed and antituberculous treatment was given. Results and discussions: TCT revealed lymph node enlargement or parenchymal lesions in 39 children (81.2%). Of the 12 children whose CXRs revealed suspicious lymph node enlargement and/or infiltration, five had normal findings in TCT whereas the initial findings were confirmed in the remaining seven. These data suggest that there is a correlation between the presence of ambiguous symptoms in exposed children and TCT findings; chest radiography and TCT findings do not yield parallel findings. All the patients who received anti-TB treatment were resolved in the control examinations. Conclusion: In this study there is a correlation between presence of ambiguous symptoms and TCT findings, but the chest radiography and TCT findings do not yield harmony in exposed children with ambiguous symptoms (suspicious tuberculosis cases). These observations should be considered in children with symptoms similar to those of exposed children, but with no definite history of exposure. If similar TCT findings observed in such patients, treatment for tuberculosis should be considered. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.