We previously reported that infection by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, leads to secretion of alpha/beta interferon (IFN-alpha/beta). While IFN-alpha/beta ordinarily stimulates formation of signal transducer and stimulator of transcription-1 (STAT-1) homodimers and IFN-stimulated gene factor-3 (ISGF-3), only ISGF-3 is found in infected human monocytes and macrophages. We have now investigated the basis for this unusual profile of transcription factor activation and its consequences for regulation of transcription, as well as the impact of infection on response to IFN-alpha. After infection, IFN-alpha stimulation of STAT-1 homodimers is inhibited in monocytes and macrophages, while stimulation of ISGF-3 increases in monocytes but tends to decline in macrophages. Effects of infection on the abundance of ISGF-3 subunits, STAT-1, STAT-2, and interferon regulatory factor 9, and on tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT-1 and STAT-2 explain the observed changes in DNA-binding activity, which correlate with increased or inhibited transcription of genes regulated by ISGF-3 and STAT-1. Infection by Mycobacterium bovis BCG does not inhibit IFN-alpha-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT-1, formation of homodimers, or transcription of genes regulated by STAT-1 homodimers, suggesting that inhibition of the response to IFN-alpha/beta by M. tuberculosis is an aspect of pathogenicity. Thus, this well-known feature of infection by pathogenic viruses may also be a strategy employed by pathogenic bacteria.