The research and development costs of 93 randomly selected new chemical entities (NCEs) were obtained from a survey of 12 U.S.-owned pharmaceutical firms. These data were used to estimate the pre-tax average cost of new drug development. The costs of abandoned NCEs were linked to the costs of NCEs that obtained marketing approval. For base case parameter values, the estimated out-of-pocket cost per approved NCE is $114 million (1987 dollars). Capitalizing out-of-pocket costs to the point of marketing approval at a 9% discount rate yielded an average cost estimate of $231 million (1987 dollars).