The aim of this study was to determine the health system costs associated with falls in older adults who had attended an emergency department (ED) in Western Australia. The data relating to the ED presentations and hospital admissions were obtained from population-based hospital administrative records for 2001-2002. The type of other health services (eg, outpatient, medical, community, ancillary and residential care), the quantity, and their cost were estimated from the literature. In adults aged 65 years and above, there were 18 706 ED presentations and 6222 hospital admissions for fall-related injuries. The estimated cost of falls to the health system was $86.4 million, with more than half of this attributable to hospital inpatient treatment. Assuming the current rate of falls remains constant for each age group and gender, the projected health system costs of falls in older adults will increase to $181 million in 2021 (expressed in 2001-02 Australian dollars). The economic burden to the health services imposed by falls in older adults is substantial, and a long-term strategic approach to falls prevention needs to be adopted. Policy in this area should be targeted at both reducing the current rate of falls through preventing injury in people from high-risk groups and reducing the future rate of falls through reducing population risk.