A 10-year (1998–2008) retrospective study was carried out to investigate the prevalence and long-term trend of hydatid disease in slaughtered herbivores in the large complex abattoir of Ahwaz (the capital of Khuzestan province, south-western Iran). A total of 3,583,417 animals including 2,815,982 sheep, 427,790 goats and 339,645 cattle were inspected macroscopically for hydatid cysts in the 10-year period, and overall 155,555 (4.24%) livers and 228,172 (6.37%) lungs were condemned. Cystic echinococcosis (CE) was responsible for 36.08% and 48.04% of total liver and lung condemnations, respectively. The prevalence of pulmonary hydatid disease in sheep, goats and cattle was 2.22, 5.43 and 6.99%, respectively; on the other hand, the prevalence of hepatic hydatid disease for those animals was 1.26, 2.57 and 2.80%, respectively. Data showed an overall downward long-term trend for CE in all livestock slaughtered during the study period (P < 0.01). Lung condemnation due to CE was significantly more common than liver condemnation for each animal separately (P < 0.001). The prevalence of liver and lung hydatidosis in sheep was significantly lower than that in other livestock (P < 0.001). The prevalence of hydatid disease recovered from the sheep, cattle and goats varied in different seasons, but there was no statistical difference between various seasons. The odds ratio of lung and liver condemnations due to hydatidosis showed a slightly different pattern in some years; however, the overall declining trend was still observed. The total annual economic loss incurred due to hydatidosis in all ruminants slaughtered at Ahwaz municipal abattoir was estimated to be US$459,659.6, based on the market prices in the year 2008. This number corresponds to a loss of US$300,620.4 for cattle, US$123,490.0 for sheep and US$35,549.2 for goats. The current results provide baseline data for the future monitoring of this potentially important disease in the region, and also suggest that a thorough investigation leading to a disease control strategy is required to reduce the economic and public health consequences of CE.