HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) are potentially excellent candidate agents for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They reduce both cardiovascular risks and RA disease activity. To evaluate the potential long-term effects of statin therapy among patients with RA, and to determine their associated cost effectiveness by incorporating both the cardiovascular and the anti-rheumatic benefits. A Markov decision-analytic model was developed to simulate cardiovascular and RA disease profiles over time. The impact of statin therapy was estimated by adjusting the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events and changes in the RA Disease Activity Score (DAS28), based on the results of a randomized trial. The benefits (QALYs) and costs (in year 2005 values) were evaluated from a US payer perspective. A full uncertainty analysis, including a value-of-information (VOI) analysis, was undertaken to evaluate the importance of individual parameters. Using a 10-year time horizon, the additional cost and QALYs of statin therapy were estimated to be USD4690 and 0.44 QALYs, respectively, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of USD10 650 per QALY (95% CI 1525, 156 565). The QALY gain associated with statin therapy depended more on the anti-rheumatic effects of statin therapy than on its cardiovascular prevention effect. The VOI analysis found the long-term benefit of statin therapy (i.e. >or=12 months) and the consequent impact on quality of life to be the most uncertain and, therefore, influential parameters. Our analysis indicates that the dual anti-inflammatory/cardiovascular benefits of statins could make this therapy highly cost effective in RA. However, uncertainties remain in the available data, warranting further research on refining the precise RA disease-activity benefits and health-utility changes associated with statin therapy, at least over a 12-month period.