Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), can infect a broad range of mammalian species in addition to domestic and feral cattle and badgers. Since legislation introduced in 2006 in Great Britain requires animal keepers, meat inspectors and veterinarians to notify the authorities of suspect bTB lesions or the isolation of M. bovis in any mammal excluding humans, the organism has been increasingly identified in domestic species other than cattle. Although in most cases 'spill-over' hosts, these remain a potential source of infection for cattle, wildlife, and possibly humans. In this first part of a two-part review of M. bovis infections in non-bovine domestic species, current knowledge of the epidemiology of such infections is presented along with novel data relating to diagnostic submissions for mycobacterial culture between 2004 and 2010. Over this period M. bovis infection was identified in 116 cats, 7 dogs, 34 llamas, 133 alpacas, 35 goats, 24 sheep and 85 pigs and wild boar. The risk that such infections pose to the control of bTB, and as zoonoses, is discussed. In part two, the options available to diagnose bTB in these species, as well as the challenges posed to disease detection and control will be discussed in depth.