The costs and benefits of a planned patient education programme for patients with asthma were evaluated in a controlled trial. The patient education group received a planned patient education programme, performed by a physician, a pharmacist and a nurse over a 6-month period. Changes in the use of resources, productive output and in health status were measured for the patient education group and the control group. The total cost for planning, implementation and evaluation of the programme was 14074 British pounds sterling. The patient education group increased its contacts to general practitioners and the extra costs totalled 252 British pounds sterling. The increased costs of drugs used by the patient education group in the 6-month period was 2313 British pounds sterling compared with costs in the control group. The number of days lost through sickness decreased in the patient education group, corresponding to a 4528 British pounds sterling saving of otherwise lost earnings. The quality of life increased in the patient education group by 3.2 points on the Psychosomatic Discomfort Scale (2.9%). Health status increased by 38.9%. The study shows that the patient education programme has a positive clinical effect on the patient's quality of life and health status. The economic consequences of the implementation programme depend on the specific setup of the local healthcare system, where the programme is applied.