We have demonstrated that mannose-binding lectin (MBL) recognizes various slow-growing, pathogenic mycobacteria [Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), M. bovis, M. kansasii, M. gordonae] as well as non-pathogenic M. smegmatis. Recognition resulted in activation of the lectin pathway (LP) of complement and an enhancement of phagocytosis (shown for M. tuberculosis). Although MBL may be considered the main factor activating the LP upon recognition of mycobacteria, involvement of ficolins has also to be considered. Interaction of ficolin-3 with M. tuberculosis, M. bovis and M. kansasii, and ficolin-1 with M. tuberculosis and M. bovis was shown for the first time. Binding of recombinant MBL or ficolin-3 to MTB H37Rv led to the agglutination of bacteria and promoted their phagocytosis, but little effect was apparent with ficolin-1 or ficolin-2. Data from Western blots suggest mannosylated lipoarabinomannan (ManLAM) to be one of the main cell components of slow-growing mycobacteria, involved in LP activation. However, the LP was also activated by other cell fractions. Results presented here supplement considerably the data concerning the ability of complement-activating lectins to interact with mycobacteria. Ficolins (especially ficolin-3) might influence host response to infection and thus have clinical significance, at least as disease modifiers.