This depends on the version of AE and the footage. Can you give some more details? If your footage is of the right format in CS5.5 you have to make sure that the right boxes are checked in the Interpret Footage dialogue. Make sure that Use source timecode from file is checked.
Then, in order to see the timecode in the footage panel you must go into the project settings and select Use Media Source from the drop down.
Your composition may be set to any start timecode and the default will be 0, but the footage window will display the timecode of the clip.
Hope this helps.
thanks a lot Rick