Eradication is the elimination of every single individual of a species from an area to which recolonization is unlikely to occur. Cost-benefit analyses of eradication programs involve biases that tend to underestimate the costs and overestimate the benefits. In this review, we (a) highlight limitations of current cost-benefit analyses, (b) assess eradication strategies from biological and sociological perspectives by discussing particular cases of successful and failed eradication efforts, and (c) briefly contrast eradication and ongoing area-wide control as pest management strategies. Two successful eradication programs involve the screwworm and cattle ticks. Gypsy moth and medfly eradication programs have not been successful, and subsequent captures of insects recur in eradication areas. In situations where heterogeneity of land use patterns make it difficult to prevent reinvasion of the pest, education and area-wide suppression are probably more realistic goals than eradication.