OBJECTIVE--To provide a descriptive analysis of the prevalence and pattern of psychiatric morbidity among 300 consecutive epileptic patients refractive to treatment and admitted during a six year period for evaluation of their candidature for surgery. METHODS--Patients underwent detailed observation of their seizure and standardised psychiatric assessment. Patients were considered to be refractory to treatment if they continued to manifest seizures with an average frequency of at least once every month even with polytherapy using up to three different anti-convulsants for a period of at least two years. Of the 300 patients, 231 had a temporal lobe focus, 43 had a non-temporal lobe focus, and 26 patients had a generalised and multifocal seizure onset. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS--With the DSM-III-R criteria 142 (47.3%) patients emerged as psychiatric cases. A principal axis I diagnosis was made in 88 (29.3%), and an axis II diagnosis (personality disorder) in another 54 (18.0%) patients. The most common axis I diagnosis was anxiety disorders (10.7%). A schizophrenia-like psychosis was seen in 13 (4.3%). Most patients with personality disorders showed dependent and avoidant personality traits. There was a significantly higher psychotic subscore on the present state examination in the temporal than with the non-temporal group of patients. These findings were not significant when compared with patients with a generalised and multifocal seizure disorder. There were no significant findings between the different seizure focus groups on the neurotic subscores. The findings with regard to laterality of seizure focus and the neurotic or psychotic subscores were not significant.