Determining the benefits to cost relationships among different approaches to rabies control and prevention has been hindered by the inherent temporal variability in the dynamics of disease among wildlife reservoir hosts and a tangible and objective measure of the cost of rabies prevention. A major and unavoidable component of rabies prevention programs involves diagnostic testing of animals and the subsequent initiation of appropriate public health responses. The unit cost per negative and positive diagnostic test outcome can be reasonably estimated. This metric when linked to methodologies subdividing the epizootic process into distinct temporal stages provided the requisite detail to estimate benefits derived from rabies control strategies. Oral rabies vaccine (ORV), for prevention of the raccoon-associated variant of rabies, has been distributed in Ohio and adjoining states in an effort to develop an immune barrier to the westward spread of epizootic raccoon rabies. The costs of ORV delivery have been quantified. Herein, the cost structures required to assess the benefits accrued by prevention were developed. A regression model was developed effectively predicting (r2=0.70) the total number of rabies diagnostic tests performed by 53 counties in five northeastern (NE) states from 1992 to 2001. Five temporal stages sufficed to capture the range of variability in the raccoon rabies epizootic process. Unit costs, dollars per diagnostic test outcome, were calculated for negative and positive results from published reports. Ohio counties were matched to NE counties based on similar socioeconomic characters. A "pseudo-epizootic" of raccoon rabies was introduced into Ohio and the costs savings from ORV were derived as the excess costs imposed by epizootic spread throughout the state. At 46 km/year (range modeled, 30-60 km/year), the pseudo epizootic spread, and reached the enzootic stage, in all Ohio counties by year 13 (range modeled, 11-17 years). Cumulative excess costs for Ohio ranged between $11 and $21 million; counties of low socioeconomic status experienced the greatest relative excess costs. The costs for rabies prevention activities reached apices during the epizootic stage of raccoon rabies (2.7-10.8 times baseline) an unforeseen finding indicated elevated costs persisted (1.7-7.2 times baseline) into the enzootic stage.