Economic evaluation of livestock diseases can either estimate their impact in terms of disease losses and treatment costs or it can examine the value of investments in coordinated disease control or eradication programmes. The latter evaluations can be ex ante and ex post and are useful in determining future strategy and learning lessons from past programmes. The paper discusses how to approach economic evaluations of livestock disease and the applications to different disease situations in Europe. An ex ante evaluation of options to control foot-and-mouth disease in the Netherlands is presented to examine the use of vaccination and culling methods with results that are dependent on the context of the disease epidemic. An evaluation of French animal health delivery systems is presented that emphasises the need to understand the economic, social and legal relationships between people caring for animals. Finally an ex ante analysis of blue tongue in the Netherlands is presented that demonstrates different levels of cost effectiveness of vaccination and other control measures. Economic analysis improves our understanding of the trade-offs we need to make when prioritising diseases to be controlled, and on what methods to employ in controlling the prioritised disease. © 2012 The Agricultural Economics Society and the European Association of Agricultural Economists.