Great progress has been made in the last 150 years in the pharmacological management of epilepsy, and, despite the increasing number of technological advances available, antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) remain the mainstay of treatment for the vast majority of patients with epilepsy. This review looks at possible avenues of development in the drug treatment of epilepsy. The strengths and weaknesses of those AEDs which are currently licensed are examined, and ways in which their use may be improved are discussed (e.g. rational combinations, use of new formulations). Potentially new targets that may allow the development of effective treatments are highlighted (neuroimmunological manipulation, decreasing inherent drug resistance mechanisms, and modification of adenosine neurotransmission), and a summary of the most promising AEDs currently in development is provided [e.g. carabersat, ganaxolone, harkoseride, MDL 27192, safinamide (NW 1015), pregabalin, retigabine, talampanel, valrocemide, losigamone and BIA 2093].