BACKGROUND: Retreatment tuberculosis (TB) disease is common in high-prevalence settings. The risk of repeated episodes of recurrent TB is unknown. We calculated the rate of recurrent TB per subsequent episode by matching individual treatment episodes over a period of 13 years. METHODS: All recorded TB episodes in Cape Town between 2003 and 2016 were matched by probabilistic linkage of personal identifiers. Among individuals with a first episode notified in Cape Town and who completed their prior treatment successfully we estimated the recurrence rate stratified by subsequent episode and HIV status. We adjusted person-time to background mortality by age, sex, and HIV status. RESULTS: A total of 292 915 TB episodes among 263 848 individuals were included. The rate of recurrent TB was 16.4 per 1000 person-years (95% CI, 16.2-16.6), and increased per subsequent episode (8.4-fold increase, from 14.6 to 122.7 per 1000 from episode 2 to 6, respectively). These increases were similar stratified by HIV status. Rates among HIV positives were higher than among HIV negatives for episodes 2 and 3 (2- and 1.5-fold higher, respectively), and the same thereafter. CONCLUSIONS: TB recurrence rates were high and increased per subsequent episode, independent of HIV status. This suggests that HIV infection is insufficient to explain the high burden of recurrence; it is more likely due to a high annual risk of infection combined with an increased risk of infection or progression to disease associated with a previous TB episode. The very high recurrence rates would justify increased TB surveillance of patients with >1 episode.