BACKGROUND Tuberculosis patients are registered in government clinics under Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) program in Chennai city catering to 4.34 million population. With the entire country geographically covered under the DOTS program, research into socioeconomic impact of TB on patients and their households is crucial for providing comprehensive patient-friendly TB services and to document the benefits of DOTS. OBJECTIVE To assess the social and economic impact of TB on patients registered under DOTS program and their families. MATERIALS AND METHODS A cross-sectional study of 300 TB patients was done using a pre-coded semi-quantitative questionnaire between March and June 2007 in all the Tuberculosis Units (TUs) of Chennai city. RESULTS Social and economic impact was perceived by 69.0% and 30.3% patients, respectively. About 24.3% suffered from both social and economic impact, while 75% patients suffered from any one form of impact. Social impact was perceived by more female patients as compared to males (80.7% vs. 62%; P < 0.001). More patients with extra-pulmonary disease (44.4%) and patients belonging to joint families (40.7%) perceived economic impact (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION After 8 years of DOTS implementation, the present study has shown that with the availability of DOTS, percentage of patients who mortgaged assets or took loans has reduced. Social impact of TB is still perceived by two-thirds of the patients (69%). Elimination or reduction of social stressors with specific, focused, and intense social support services, awareness generation, and counseling to patients and families need to be built into the program.