The conventional wisdom holds that workplace health promotion (HP) programs yield financial dividends, often generating cost savings. To examine the intellectual and empirical basis for this belief, we reviewed the literature on the economics of workplace HP programs. In general, in the literature published through early 1986, the claims of HP programs' profitability are based on anecdotal evidence or analyses seriously flawed in terms of assumptions, data, or methodology. Furthermore, certain aspects of the economics of HP programs have been virtually ignored. The dearth of sound evidence on the economic merits of workplace HP should not be interpreted as a negative assessment of the potential of such programs, however. Rather, it recommends a healthy skepticism in reading the literature and development of a new research-based body of understanding.