Despite the findings of significantly improved motor functioning following pallidotomy for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, the cognitive sequelae following surgery have yet to be clearly defined. With increasing knowledge of the surgery's effect on frontostriatal circuits, the cognitive processes potentially affected by the procedure require further exploration to evaluate fully the efficacy of the treatment. We reviewed 10 studies on the neuropsychological outcome after pallidotomy that were published in peer-reviewed journals. A general agreement exists that pallidotomy is a relatively safe and effective treatment for ameliorating the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, with relatively few cognitive changes reported following surgery. However, a number of conceptual and methodological concerns, including diverse selection criteria, small sample sizes and short follow-up periods, limit the interpretation and generalizability of these findings. These concerns are discussed in detail, along with a summary of the current neuropsychological literature, suggested guidelines for the conduct of research and future research directions. The neuropsychological findings are critically reviewed and tabulated by study, cognitive domain and follow-up period, with particular emphasis on hemisphere-specific cognitive changes.