BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE Tuberculosis (TB) risk might be increased in patients with diabetes by factors other than hyperglycaemia, such as dyslipidaemia. Host lipids are essential energy sources used by mycobacteria to persist in a latent TB state. A potential therapy targeting cholesterol catabolism of mycobacteria has been proposed, but the potential of cholesterol-lowering drugs as anti-TB therapy is unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of ezetimibe, a 2-azetidinone cholesterol absorption inhibitor, on intracellular mycobacteria survival and dormancy. METHODS Intracellular mycobacteria survival was determined by measurements of ATP activity and colony-formation units (CFUs). Gene expression profiles of hypoxia-induced dormant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) were analysed by real-time PCR. Flow cytometry and microscopy analysis were used to measure the lipid loads of human macrophages with or without ezetimibe treatment. QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFT-G-IT) assays were performed to diagnose latent TB infection. The levels of intracellular cholesterol/ triglyceride were measured by an enzymatic fluorometric method. RESULTS Ezetimibe was capable of effectively lowering intracellular growth of Mtb and hypoxia-induced dormant Mtb. There was a significant decrease in Mtb growth in leucocytes from ezetimibe-treated patients with diabetes in terms of ATP levels of intracellular mycobacteria and CFU formation. Also, patients receiving ezetimibe therapy had a lower prevalence of latent TB and had lower intracellular lipid contents. CONCLUSION Ezetimibe, which is a currently marketed drug, could hold promise as an adjunctive, host-directed therapy for TB.