The clinical effects, recovery characteristics, and costs of total intravenous anesthesia (TIVA), sevoflurane, and isoflurane anesthesia have been measured in various out-patient operations, but have not been evaluated in patients undergoing laminectomy or discectomy. In the current study, the authors assessed the hemodynamic characteristics, recovery, and cost analyzes after laminectomy and discectomy operations, comparing TIVA, sevoflurane, and isoflurane anesthesia. Sixty American Society of Anesthesiologists I and II patients were randomly divided into three groups, each consisting of 20 patients. Group I received propofol-alfentanil, Group 2 received sevoflurane-N2O, and Group 3 received isoflurane-N2O. At the end of surgery, the anesthetics were discontinued, and recovery from anesthesia was assessed by measuring the time until spontaneous eye opening and the time until response to verbal commands. The drug and delivery costs were calculated in United States dollars. No significant differences were found in the demographic data. Heart rate and mean arterial pressure decreased significantly after induction of anesthesia in the TIVA group, compared to the two other groups (P < .05 for both comparisons). The fastest recovery was seen in the TIVA group. Incidences of postoperative nausea, vomiting, and pain were significantly reduced after TIVA (P < .05 for both comparisons). Thus, TIVA patients required fewer additional drugs and showed the lowest additional costs in the post-anesthesia care unit. However, the total cost was significantly higher in the TIVA group than in the sevoflurane and isoflurane groups ($52.73, $29.99, and $24.14, respectively) (P < .05). Total intravenous anesthesia was associated with the highest intraoperative cost but provided the most rapid recovery from anesthesia, and the least frequent postoperative side effects.