Trial-based economic evaluations are an important aspect of health technology assessment. The availability of patient-level data coupled with unbiased estimates of clinical outcomes means that randomised controlled trials are effective vehicles for the generation of economic data. However there are methodological challenges to trial-based evaluations, which include the collection of reliable data on resource use and cost, choice of health outcome measure, calculating minimally important differences, dealing with missing data, extrapolating outcomes and costs over time and the analysis of multinational trials. This review focuses on the state of the art of selective elements concerning the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of trial-based economic evaluations. The limitations of existing approaches are detailed and novel methods introduced. The review is internationally relevant but with a focus towards practice in the UK.