The ability to estimate costs of alien species eradications is essential for a rigorous assessment of priorities for island restoration. Using a global data file from 41 islands, mostly gleaned from the ‘grey’ literature, we show that the cost of vertebrate eradications can be satisfactorily predicted if island area and species to be eradicated are known. About 72% of the variation in cost can be explained by island area, whereas, for a given area, rodent eradications are 1.7–3.0 times more expensive than ungulate eradications. Costs per hectare decrease with island size. Restricting the analysis to roughly half the data set, the relatively homogeneous half concerned with New Zealand islands, we identify two further influences on cost: date of eradication and distance to the main airport (an indicator of remoteness). For a given area, costs have declined over time but increase with island remoteness. This information therefore provides conservation planners with a robust, if preliminary, estimate of the cost of any proposed eradication programme.