A query optimizer requires cost models to calculate the costs of various access plans for a query. An effective method to estimate the number of disk (or page) accesses for spatio-temporal queries has not yet been proposed. The TPR-tree is an efficient index that supports spatio-temporal queries for moving objects. Existing cost models for the spatial index such as the R-tree do not accurately estimate the number of disk accesses for spatio-temporal queries using the TPR-tree, because they do not consider the future locations of moving objects, which change continuously as time passes. In this paper, we propose an efficient cost model for spatio-temporal queries to solve this problem. We present analytical formulas which accurately calculate the number of disk accesses for spatio-temporal queries. Extensive experimental results show that our proposed method accurately estimates the number of disk accesses over various queries to spatio-temporal data combining real-life spatial data and synthetic temporal data. To evaluate the effectiveness of our method, we compared our spatio-temporal cost model (STCM) with an existing spatial cost model (SCM). The application of the existing SCM has the average error ratio from 52% to 93%, whereas our STCM has the average error ratio from 11% to 32%. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.