Cervical lymphadenitis is the most common head and neck manifestation of mycobacterial infections. The incidence of mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis has increased. It may be the manifestation of a systemic tuberculous disease or a unique clinical entity localized to neck. It remains a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge because it mimics other pathologic processes and yields inconsistent physical and laboratory findings. A high index of suspicion is needed for the diagnosis of mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis. A unilateral single or multiple painless lump, mostly located in posterior cervical or supraclavicular region can occur. A thorough history and physical examination, tuberculin test, staining for acid-fast bacilli, radiologic examination, fine-needle aspiration and PCR will be instrumental in arriving at an early diagnosis early institution of treatment before a final diagnosis can be made by biopsy and culture. It is important to differentiate tuberculous from nontuberculous mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitis because their treatment protocols are different. Tuberculous adenitis is best treated as a systemic disease with antituberculosis medication. Atypical infections can be addressed as local infections and are amenable to surgical therapy. Copyright (C) 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel.