Descriptive study, which aimed to analyze the time between the perception of TB symptoms onset and the first search for health services, according to TB patient characteristics in São José do Rio Preto - SP. 97 TB patients in treatment were interviewed with a structured instrument. The delay was identified by the median time between the perception of TB symptom's onset and the patients demand for care (> 15 days). To identify the variables related to delay the prevalence ratio were calculated. There was a delay seeking care among: male patients, aged 18 to 29 and 50 to 59 years, lower education and higher family income, pulmonary cases without HIV co-infection, presenting milder symptoms, users of alcoholic beverages and tobacco, those who did not perform preventive health control, and who sought health services closer to home. The recognition of users' profiles in the search for care is paramount for defining strategies that favor the use of services in a timely manner.