We conducted a retrospective, literature-based decision analysis to compare the cost-effectiveness of conventional low-dose heparin, dalteparin, and intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) as thromboembolic prophylaxis to a no-prophylaxis option in patients at moderate risk of developing thromboembolic complications after major elective abdominal surgery. The analysis was conducted through an institutional perspective. Probability and incidence rate data were summarized from the literature. Cost data were obtained from the Detroit Medical Center's cost accounting systems and from national diagnosis-related group estimates. Mortality and complications avoided were the main outcome measures on which cost-effectiveness was based. Overall costs associated with conventional low-dose heparin, dalteparin, intermittent pneumatic compression, and no prophylaxis were $84, $122, $102, and $112, respectively in the primary analysis, which included costs of labor. Corresponding cost-effectiveness ratios in terms of costs/complication-free patient were $86, $124, $103, and $118, respectively. Compared with no prophylaxis, incremental cost-effectiveness analysis in terms of cost/mortality avoided involved savings of $6087 and $3125 with conventional low-dose heparin and IPC, respectively, and expenses of $2857 with dalteparin. A secondary analysis excluding costs of labor showed similar results. The results of the study consistently showed conventional low-dose heparin to provide the most cost-effective thromboembolic prophylaxis of the methods considered in terms of reducing both morbidity and mortality in the patient population studied.