We recently observed a striking increase in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) among patients admitted to the Chest Service at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. We reviewed the laboratory susceptibility test results of 4,681 tuberculosis (TB) cases over the past 20 years, Combined resistance to isoniazid and rifampin increased from 2.5 percent in 1971 to 16 percent in 1991 with higher rates noted for individual drugs. We reviewed the medical records of 100 patients with drug-resistant TB, finding that these individuals were predominantly less than 40 years of age, minority, male, jobless, undomiciled, with a high percentage of drug abuse and human immunodeficiency virus infection. We conclude that the epidemics of AIDS and TB are complicated by a third epidemic of MDR-TB. This third epidemic requires urgent attention to achieve more rapid diagnosis, to develop new therapeutic regimens, and to address the social and hospital environment ot care for these individuals.