BACKGROUND: Information leaflets are widely used to increase awareness and knowledge of disease. Limited research has, to date, been undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of these information resources. This pilot study sought to determine whether information leaflets developed specifically for staff working with substance mis-users improved knowledge of tuberculosis (TB). METHOD: Staffs working with individuals affected by substance mis-use were recruited between January and May 2008. All participants were subjectively allocated by their line manager either to receive the TB-specific leaflet or a control leaflet providing information on mental health. Level of knowledge of TB was assessed using questionnaires before and after the intervention and data analysed using McNemar's exact test for matched pairs. RESULTS: The control group showed no evidence of a change in knowledge of TB, whereas the TB questionnaire group demonstrated a significant increase in knowledge including TB being curable (81% correct before to 100% correct after), length of treatment required (42% before to 73% after), need to support direct observation (18% to 62%) and persistent fever being a symptom (56% to 87%). Among key workers, who have a central role in implementing a care plan, 88% reported never receiving any TB awareness-raising intervention prior to this study, despite 11% of all respondents having TB diagnosed among their clients. CONCLUSION: Further randomized controlled trials are required to confirm the observed increase in short-term gain in knowledge and to investigate whether knowledge gain leads to change in health status.