Although mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) in Australia has fallen dramatically since the 1960s, it still remains the major cause of death in Australia and poses a significant burden on the economy. Even though a number of studies have concluded that prevention has been the main determinant of the declines in CHD, a disproportionate amount of health-care expenditure is devoted to treatment rather than prevention. This paper reviews the international literature on the economic appraisal (costs and benefits) of alternative interventions for the treatment and prevention of CHD with the view of assessing whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a reallocation of resources away from treatment to prevention. First, few studies on the economic evaluation of CHD prevention and treatment programs have been undertaken in Australia, with most being from the United States and Europe. Second, assumptions about the specification, measurement and valuation of costs, and the epidemiological evidence on program effectiveness have varied. Third, health promotion and prevention programs are not necessarily more cost-effective than drug or surgical treatments for CHD. Individual interventions must be judged on their own merits. There is a need for a systematic evaluation of interventions for CHD using primary Australian data to better inform decision making on resource-allocation priorities. Such an evaluation should incorporate economic evaluation techniques.