OBJECTIVE: To evaluate social maturation and psychiatric morbidity in young adults treated for epilepsy during their childhood. METHODS: Eighty one young adults (43 women, 38 men, mean age 22.3 years) with epilepsy during their childhood were interviewed about their social development and psychiatric symptoms. The results were compared with those from 211 randomly selected controls (106 women, 105 men, mean age 23.2 years). RESULTS: Compared with the controls the patients had more often not succeeded in passing the normal comprehensive school (20% v 2%) or had left school at the secondary level (53% v 46%) and remained without any vocational education (27% v 11%). There was no significant difference in the employment status of those with work between the patients and the controls. The patients were significantly more often labelled with poor social maturation and dependent lifestyle factors such as living with their parents. However, risk analysis showed that neither the disease itself nor antiepileptic medication were significant predisposing factors for poor social adjustment but low or borderline mental capacity or learning disabilities relating to epilepsy were. Psychiatric morbidity was similar in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: The social handicap found in a certain group of young adults with epilepsy during childhood is largely associated with neurological and cognitive impairments other than epilepsy itself. With the present mode of treatment epilepsy itself does not seem to disturb adolescent social and psychological development.