The problems confronting patients with epilepsy, their families, and the surgeons wishing to help such patients, are discussed. It is important for physicians in other specialties to realize that epilepsy surgery is not nowadays complex, difficult, painful or uncertain; furthermore such operations are based on finding and removing focal lesions rather than "epileptogenic cortex" and the result in terms of integration of the patient into society is much improved if such intervention is performed while the patient is young, with time to gain academic and social skills after the operation. The selection of patients suitable for operation is discussed as well as methods of determining which hemisphere is dominant for speech and whether or not the focal lesion involves language centres. The majority of patients with drug resistant epilepsy suitable for operation have abnormalities in one temporal lobe. The pathological lesion is described and the advantages and disadvantages of various operations for temporal lobe epilepsy discussed. Extra-temporal cortical resection in the dominant hemisphere is also considered, particularly with reference to the preservation of language function. It is important that neurosurgeons realise that MRI and CT scanning have transformed epilepsy surgery from being a rather nebulous, time consuming art, to being for the majority of patients, a clear cut, straight forward procedure firmly based on "Oslerian" pathological principles. Far too few patients are being offered an operation (which renders 60-70% seizure free); neurosurgeons should respond to this challenge.