This article focuses on describing the methodological challenges intrinsic in international comparative studies of hospital productivity and how these challenges have been addressed within the context of hospital comparisons in the Nordic countries. The hospital sectors in the Nordic countries are suitable for international comparison as they exhibit similar structures in the organisation for hospital care, hold administrative data of good quality at the hospital level, apply a similar secondary patient classification system, and use similar definitions of operating costs. The results of a number of studies have suggested marked differences in hospital cost efficiency and hospital productivity across the Nordic countries and the Finnish hospitals have the highest estimates in all the analyses. Explanatory factors that were tested and seemed to be of limited importance included institutional, structural and technical. A factor that is yet to be included in the Nordic hospital productivity comparison is the quality of care. Patient-level data available from linkable national registers in each country enable the development of quality indicators and will be included in the forthcoming hospital productivity studies within the context of the EuroHOPE (European health care outcomes, performance and efficiency) project.