Evaluations of fire management programs have been based primarily on ecological criteria rather than on cost-effectiveness. Determining cost-effectiveness poses several problems: current budgeting practices do not encourage such evaluations, assessment of the net value changes produced by fire is qualitative, and cost-effectiveness of fire management alternatives is difficult to determine. This discussion focuses on two approaches to determining cost-effectiveness. The first,a survey of cost-effectiveness in parks with complex fire management plans, showed most managers had considered cost in developing their programs but lacked data to demonstrate cost-effectiveness. The second, a simulation model based on the Olympic National Park fire management program, suggests that measuring cost-effectiveness of complex fire management requires knowing costs of other fire management alternatives. If progress in complex fire management depends on determining and quantifying cost-effectiveness, it will be necessary to quantify the trade-offs associated with prescribed fires and wildfires.