Costs and returns of pasture-based dairy production are compared with those of conventional production using matching samples. Both whole-farm and dairy enterprise-level estimates are made using the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Resource Management Survey data. Conventional farms are matched to pasture-based farms on the basis of operation scale, scope, region, and farmer demographics and adoption of technology. Results show for pasture-based production lower net farm income on per-cow, per-hundredweight milk produced, and total bases. On an enterprise basis, results show for pasture-based production, higher net return over operating cost and lower net return over total cost per hundredweight milk produced.