Clinical relevance of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) isolated from 180 chronically ill patients and 385 healthy controls in Zambia was evaluated to examine the contribution of these isolates to tuberculosis (TB)-like disease. The proportion of NTM-positive sputum samples was significantly higher in the patient group than in controls-, 11% and 6%, respectively (p < 0.05). NTM-associated lung disease was diagnosed for 1 patient, and a probable diagnosis was made for 3 patients. NTM-positive patients and controls were more likely to report vomiting and diarrhea and were more frequently underweight than the NTM-negative patients and controls. Chest radiographs of NTM-positive patients showed deviations consistent with TB more frequently than those of controls. The most frequently isolated NTM was Mycobacterium avium complex. Multiple, not previously identified mycobacteria (55 of 171 NTM) were isolated from both groups. NTM probably play an important role in the etiology of TB-like diseases in Zambia.