To compare the cost-effectiveness of a multimodal back exercise programme for non-specific back pain with that of standard treatment. Medical costs were measured in euros (EUR) and effectiveness was measured using Graded Chronic Pain Status (GCPS). A controlled multicentre study (39 sites) with a 6-month intervention phase and follow-up at 6, 12 and 18 months. The study included 1,829 participants in an intervention group and 495 individuals in a control group. The multimodal back exercise programme comprises 36 exercise sessions for optimizing the spine stabilizing muscles and everyday motor func-tions. The patients were given a home training programme at the end of the intervention programme. The back exercise programme resulted in a significant reduction, of 0.4, in back pain grade on the GCPS after 2 years, compared with standard treat-ment, and reduced medical costs by 763 EUR. The exercise programme was therapeutically effective for GCPS back pain grades 1-4 and produced cost savings in the case of grade 4 GCPS. The multimodal back exercise programme was therapeutically effective for back pain (grades 1-2) and pain-related functional impairment (grades 3-4). It resulted in reduced costs for chronic back pain causing high pain-induced functional impairment (grade 4). The therapeutic and economic effects of the programme increase with the grade of back pain.