purpose: to identify social representations of tuberculosis among individuals with the disease who were receiving treatment at a specialized service in a municipal district of santa catarina, brazil. methods: the sample consisted of 25 individuals with tuberculosis. data were collected through semi-structured interviews. the theory of social representations guided the content analysis of the data. results: the main theme was "living with tuberculosis is suffering." this theme was support by three sub-themes: (a) treatment of tuberculosis is difficult; (b) tuberculosis isolates people; and (c) tuberculosis changes an individual's perception of himself or herself. the representations of tuberculosis were expressed as loss, sadness, dissatisfaction, and revolt. conclusion: the representations of tuberculosis as a suffering condition indicate the need to develop support network for people with the disease and the need to work through prejudices, being afraid of the disease, and indifference to people with the disease.