Neonatal intensive care is expensive. In the current era of intense cost containment in hospital care, neonatologists and hospital administrators are under intense pressure to find strategies for cost reduction for neonatal services. Few neonatal clinicians are trained in economics, management, or accounting, and few hospital administrators are familiar with neonatal intensive care. In this review, we describe the structure and sources of hospital costs and the accounting systems needed to isolate and measure such costs. We discuss where efficiencies might be found and consider specific issues in capitated settings such as health maintenance organizations in the United States, the Canadian health care system and the National Health System in the United Kingdom.