Abstract Developmental neocortical malformations resulting from abnormal neurogenesis, disturbances in programmed cell death, or neuronal migration disorders may cause a long-term hyperexcitability. Early generated Cajal–Retzius and subplate neurons play important roles in transient cortical circuits, and structural/functional disorders in early cortical development may induce persistent network disturbances and epileptic disorders. In particular, depolarizing GABAergic responses are important for the regulation of neurodevelopmental events, like neurogenesis or migration, while pathophysiological alterations in chloride homeostasis may cause epileptic activity. Although modern imaging techniques may provide an estimate of the structural lesion, the site and extent of the cortical malformation may not correlate with the epileptogenic zone. The neocortical focus may be surrounded by widespread molecular, structural, and functional disturbances, which are difficult to recognize with imaging technologies. However, modern imaging and electrophysiological techniques enable focused hypotheses of the neocortical epileptogenic zone, thus allowing more specific epilepsy surgery. Focal cortical malformation can be successfully removed with minimal rim, close to or even within eloquent cortex with a promising risk–benefit ratio.