A case-control study of the factors associated with the risk of a bovine tuberculosis (TB) breakdown in cattle herds was undertaken within the randomized badger culling trial (RBCT). TB breakdowns occurring prior to the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic in three RBCT triplets were eligible to be cases; controls were selected from the same RBCT area. Data from 151 case farms and 117 control farms were analysed using logistic regression. The strongest factors associated with an increased TB risk were movement of cattle onto the farm from markets or farm sales, operating a farm over multiple premises and the use of either covered yard or 'other' housing types. Spreading artificial fertilizers or farmyard manure on grazing land were both associated with decreased risk. These first case-control results from the RBCT will be followed by similar analyses as more data become available.