OBJECTIVES: We undertook this study to calculate the cost per life-year gained in the first round of a screening program for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and to estimate the costs in a subsequent round. METHODS: This was an intervention study, with follow-up for ruptured aneurysms. Men older than 50 years were screened for asymptomatic AAA. Outcome measures included cost per life-year saved and number of men needed to be screened to save one life. RESULTS: The incidence of ruptured AAA was 2.6 per 10,000 person- years in the screening group and 7.1 per 10,000 person-years in the control group. Screening is estimated to have prevented 10.8 ruptured AAA and 8 deaths per year, gaining 51 life-years per year for the study population, and to have reduced the incidence of ruptured AAA by 64% (95% CI, 42%-77%). Each life-year gained during the first screening round cost $1107. To save one life, 1000 men need to be screened and 5 elective operations performed. We predict that a second round of screening can be cost neutral. CONCLUSIONS: The cost-effectiveness of screening for AAA compares favorably with screening programs for other disorders in adults.