Economics is the main driving force in changing health care delivery in the 90s. The motto is to "do more with less." Cost containment and efficient resource utilization swing the pendulum back to the debate of early tracheal extubation in cardiac surgical patients. Recently, it has been confirmed that fast-track cardiac anesthesia is both safe and cost-effective. This article describes the economic implications in postoperative care of fast-track cardiac surgery. First, the developments of early extubation postcardiac surgery and the factors that influence costs of cardiac surgery are reviewed. Second, the morbidity outcome, utilization, and cost implications of early extubation in cardiac surgery are summarized. The perioperative cost analysis in fast-track cardiac surgery, including the cost of complications and resource utilization, is outlined. Lastly, it is important to realize that early extubation does not necessarily mean earlier intensive care unit or hospital discharge. To achieve a maximum cost benefit from early extubation, team organization of a fast-track cardiac surgery program for the perioperative management of these patients is detailed.