We examined the epidemiology of community-acquired bacterial meningitis among adults in England and Wales between 1991 and 2002. Among 3169 cases, meningococcal infection was predominant among young adults and pneumococcal meningitis among older adults. Whilst infection due to most causes decreased, the incidence of tuberculous (TB) meningitis doubled over the 12 years. The mortality rate among meningococcal and pneumococcal infections fell from 0·45/105 to 0·31/105 (P=0·0001). This study demonstrates important changes in the epidemiology of bacterial meningitis among UK adults. Improvements in clinical management, childhood vaccination programmes and the re-emergence of tuberculosis are likely to be drivers of these changes.