Abstract Most studies about cognitive functions in children with benign childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes (BCECTS) have been conducted with alphabetic writing background subjects, however deficits observed might therefore potentially differ in a Chinese language environment. This study was designed to evaluate the intelligence quotient (IQ) profiles, especially the language abilities, in Chinese children with BCECTS and to investigate whether there is a relationship between clinical factors and disorders of cognitive functions. There are selective cognitive deficits in Chinese children with BCECTS, although the Full Scale Intelligence Quotient is within the normal range. There was a correlation between spike wave index (SWI) and language deficits in children with BCECTS, but the deficits are not dependent on age of onset, disease course, seizure frequency, spike location or seizure type. It is important that children with typical BCECTS undergo regular clinical investigations about language performance in order to start necessary interventions as early as possible.