A retrospective case note review was conducted of 47 patients of 15 years and older who had sustained simple partial status epilepticus (SPSE) in The Netherlands between 1980 and 1987. In 46 patients the type of SPSE was somatomotor (in four adversive), and in one aphasic with visual and auditory hallucinations. SPSE was more common over the age of 50. Six of 27 patients with previous epilepsy had an acute symptomatic cause. In 20 patients without previous epilepsy stroke was the most frequent cause (75%). Outcome was determined by the underlying cause. In one patient the continuing epileptic activity may have caused neuronal damage.