Given the increased awareness of the importance of cost-effectiveness in health care, there has been a growth in the number of published economic evaluations in recent years. Partly in response to concerns about deficiencies in the methodology of published studies, there has been a growth of interest in guidelines for economic evaluation. This paper reviews the various objectives of economic analyses, and then summarizes the existing groups of guidelines for cost and cost-effectiveness analyses. Finally, it compares and discusses the appropriate uses and limitations of the guidelines, with particular emphasis on those developed for applications in developing countries.