An analysis was made that calculated the risk of disease for premises in the most heavily affected parts of the county of Cumbria during the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic in the UK in 2001. In over half the cases the occurrence of the disease was not directly attributable to a recently infected premises being located within 1.5 km. Premises more than 1.5 km from recently infected premises faced sufficiently high infection risks that culling within a 1.5 km radius of the infected premises alone could not have prevented the progress of the epidemic. A comparison of the final outcome in two areas of the county, south Penrith and north Cumbria, indicated that focusing on controlling the potential spread of the disease over short distances by culling premises contiguous to infected premises, while the disease continued to spread over longer distances, may have resulted in excessive numbers of premises being culled. Even though the contiguous cull in south Penrith appeared to have resulted in a smaller proportion of premises becoming infected, the overall proportion of premises culled was considerably greater than in north Cumbria, where, because of staff and resource limitations, a smaller proportion of premises contiguous to infected premises was culled.