Incidence of zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and associated health care resource utilisation were investigated in the Australian population aged > or =50 years, using general practice data from 2000 to 2006, and pharmaceutical prescribing, hospital morbidity and emergency department data from 1998 to 2005. Zoster and PHN incidence rates were estimated as approximately 10/1000 and 1.45/1000 persons, respectively, with antivirals prescribed for 73.5% of zoster cases. Estimated hospitalisation and emergency department visit rates were 0.67/1000 and 0.38/1000 persons, respectively. Management of zoster (including PHN) involved approximately 2.4 general practitioner consultations. Total costs to the health care system were estimated as approximately 32.8 million per year. The substantial burden of zoster and PHN highlights the potential benefit of zoster vaccination.