Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms (RAAA) have a 78-94% mortality rate. If cost-effectiveness of screening programs for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are to be assessed, direct costs for RAAA repairs and elective AAA (EAAA) repairs are required. This study reports mortality, morbidity, and direct costs for RAAA and EAAA repairs in Nova Scotia in 1997-1998 and also compares Nova Scotia and U.S. costs. We performed a retrospective study of 41 consecutive RAAA and 48 randomly selected EAAA patients. Average total costs for RAAA repair were significantly greater than those for EAAA repair (direct costs: $15,854 vs. $9673; direct plus overhead costs: $18,899 vs. $12,324 [pricing in 1998 Canadian dollars]). Intensive care unit length of stay and blood product usage were the most substantial direct cost differentials ($3593 and $2106). Direct cost for preoperative testing and surveillance was greater in the EAAA group ($839 vs. $33). Estimates of U.S. in-hospital RAAA and EAAA repair costs are more than 1.5 times Nova Scotia costs. Direct in-hospital RAAA repair costs are $6181 more than EAAA repair costs. These in-hospital cost data are key cost elements required to assess the cost-effectiveness of various screening strategies for earlier detection and monitoring of AAA within high-risk populations in Canada. Further studies are required to estimate cost per quality-adjusted-life-year gained for various AAA screening and monitoring strategies in Canada.