This study quantified the lifetime costs of cerebral palsy (CP) in a register-based setting. It was the first study outside the US to assess the lifetime costs of CP. The lifetime costs attributable to CP were divided into three categories: health care costs, productivity costs, and social costs. The population analysed was retrieved from the Danish Cerebral Palsy Register, which covers the eastern part of the country and has registered about half of the Danish population of individuals with CP since 1950. For this study we analysed 2367 individuals with CP, who were born in 1930 to 2000 and were alive in 2000. The prevalence of CP in eastern Denmark was approximately 1.7 per 1000. Information on productivity and the use of health care was retrieved from registers. The lifetime cost of CP was about €860 000 for men and about €800 000 for women. The largest component was social care costs, particularly during childhood. A sensitivity analysis found that alterations in social care costs had a small effect, whereas lowering the discount rate from 5 to 3 per cent markedly increased total lifetime costs. Discounting decreases the value of costs in the future compared with the present. The high social care costs and productivity costs associated with CP point to a potential gain from labour market interventions that benefit individuals with CP.