This article seeks to contribute to recent debates about ethnicity and health by exploring the history of migration and tuberculosis in England and Wales between 1950 and 1970. It concludes that the story was more complex than recent writing, with its emphasis on 'port health' concerns, has implied. The fear that tuberculosis was being imported by migrants was certainly a central concern of both early researchers and the medical establishment. However, some researchers did show some interest in material explanations and in the roles of housing and work patterns in the transmission of the disease. A system of medical examinations at the ports of entry was not in fact implemented and it was at the local level that a system of surveillance was set up. Finally, despite much debate about the susceptibility of migrants, racial concerns were less evident than recent writers have suggested.