Rotavirus is a major cause of gastroenteritis in children throughout Europe and the world. In addition to causing morbidity and mortality in children, rotavirus gastroenteritis (RVGE) creates a major economic burden on health care systems and families in Europe. The costs of hospital admissions for RVGE and nosocomial infections generate significant medical treatment costs throughout the region. Less information is available on the costs associated with less severe episodes and the costs borne by families, including lost time from work. The availability of rotavirus vaccines presents an effective opportunity to prevent RVGE and these associated economic costs, as well as providing protection to each child and hence benefiting the child's family. The adoption of rotavirus vaccine by health authorities in Europe will require a comparison of the costs and benefits. Economic evaluations that compare the costs of vaccination to the economic benefits of rotavirus vaccination will provide an estimate of its financial impact on health care systems and society. However, to provide a complete picture, economic evaluations of rotavirus vaccines will need to account for both the reduced costs and the reduced morbidity from prevented RVGE. Cost-effectiveness analyses based on quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) provide a systematic approach for assessing vaccination as a health investment, comparing the incremental costs associated with rotavirus vaccination and the reduced morbidity and mortality. QALYs provide a standardized approach for quantifying and comparing reductions in health-related quality of life and premature mortality. Although methodologic limitations exist in applying the QALY approach to childhood vaccines, their use in cost effectiveness analyses allows decision makers to consider the full health benefits of rotavirus and other vaccines.