Nitric oxide (NO) contributes to protection from tuberculosis (TB). It is generally assumed that this protection is due to direct inhibition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) growth, which prevents subsequent pathological inflammation. In contrast, we report NO primarily protects mice by repressing an interleukin-1 and 12/15-lipoxygenase dependent neutrophil recruitment cascade that promotes bacterial replication. Using Mtb mutants as indicators of the pathogen's environment, we inferred that granulocytic inflammation generates a nutrient-replete niche that supports Mtb growth. Parallel clinical studies indicate that a similar inflammatory pathway promotes TB in patients. The human 12/15 lipoxygenase ortholog, ALOX12, is expressed in cavitary TB lesions, the abundance of its products correlate with the number of airway neutrophils and bacterial burden, and a genetic polymorphism that increases ALOX12 expression is associated with TB risk. These data suggest that Mtb exploits neutrophilic inflammation to preferentially replicate at sites of tissue damage that promote contagion.