Outcome studies of the treatment of epilepsy have revealed unsatisfactory results in 30-60% of patients. Thanks to their new, more specific pharmacodynamics, new antiepileptic drugs have brought new promise of treatment to drug-resistant epileptic patients. When selecting a drug it is necessary to consider its pharmacological profile, effectiveness, interactions and adverse effects. The authors list the basic criteria for antiepileptic drug selection and pay special attention to the significance of differential diagnosis in therapy. The pharmacodynamics of new generation antiepileptic drugs are discussed. On the basis of numerous observations and clinical tests the authors have gathered data which allow them to evaluate the usefulness of these drugs for the treatment of various types of epileptic attacks. Because they do not interact with other drugs and also because they do not have an adverse effect on mood and cognitive functions, new generation antiepileptic drugs may be extremely valuable in very difficult cases and particularly in the treatment of mentally disturbed patients. Female patients with epilepsy are another group which needs to be given special attention. Although very little is still known about the use of new generation antiepileptic drugs in pregnant women, the experience gathered so far suggests that some of these drugs may be administered with little teratogenic risk. Finally, the fact that new generation antiepileptic drugs have few side effects and do not interact with other drugs renders these AEDs particularly useful and desirable in the treatment of the rapidly increasing population of elderly epileptic patients.