This paper reports on a collaborative venture between operational researchers and civil engineers over 3 years. The main objectives were to collect and publish data on the observed rates of deterioration of particular defect types in a large number of concrete bridges, and to develop predictive mathematical models that relate inspection frequency to maintenance costs. The motivation was in part associated with the prototype modelling paper for inspection practices of major concrete structures, Christer (1988). The paper reports on the analysis of data collected and the estimation of deterioration using the concept of delay time. The two phase delay time model is extended to an extra phase in order to model the process of cracking and spalling in concrete. Maximum likelihood techniques are used to estimate modelling parameters and an appropriate test of fit is carried out. Cost based models are then formulated to predict the cost effects of maintenance and inspection decision options. The cost model is applied first to an element, and then to an aggregate number of component types to produce a cost model for maintenance of a bridge or set of bridges.