Over 4 million patients suffer nosocomial infections annually in the European Union. This study aimed to estimate the healthcare burden associated with healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) following surgery in France, and explore the potential impact of infection control strategies and interventions on the clinical and economic burden of disease. Data on the frequency of HAIs were gathered from the 2010 Programme de Médicalisation des Systèmes d'Information (PMSI), and cost data were taken from the 2009 Echelle Nationale de Coûts à Méthodologie Commune (ENCC). It was estimated that 3% of surgical procedures performed in 2010 in France resulted in infection, resulting in an annual cost of €57 892 715. Patients experiencing a HAI had a significantly increased mortality risk (4·15-fold) and an increased length of hospital stay (threefold). Scenario analysis in which HAI incidence following surgery was reduced by 8% (based on a study of the effectiveness of triclosan-coated sutures), suggested that, annually, 20 205 hospital days and €4 588 519 could be saved. Analyses of 20% and 30% reductions in incidence (based on an estimate of the number of preventable nosocomial infections) suggested that annual savings of €11 548 057 and €17 334 696, respectively, could be made. New infection control interventions which reduce HAI incidence during hospitalization for surgery have the potential to provide valuable cost savings to healthcare providers.