Originally described as a model of 'psychomotor seizures' (J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. (1953) 107-273), the 6 Hz corneal stimulation model was abandoned shortly after its description because of its lack of sensitivity to phenytoin. This observation is the basis for the present study designed to validate the 6 Hz seizure as a model of therapy-resistant epilepsy. The pharmacological profile of the 6 Hz seizure was determined at varying current intensities using seven established AEDs (phenytoin, carbamazepine, clonazepam, phenobarbital, ethosuximide, trimethadione, valproic acid) and five second-generation AEDs (lamotrigine, levetiracetam, felbamate, tiagabine, topiramate). The immediate early gene c-Fos was used as a marker of seizure-induced neuronal activation to help define those brain structures that were activated by 6 Hz corneal stimulation. At the current intensity required to produce a seizure in 97% of the population (CC97=22 mA), the 6 Hz seizure did not discriminate between clinical classes of AEDs tested. Increasing the current intensity by 50% (i.e. 32 mA) decreased the sensitivity of the 6 Hz seizure to phenytoin and lamotrigine. At a current intensity of 2 x CC97 (i.e. 44 mA), only two AEDs, levetiracetam and valproic acid, displayed complete protection against the 6 Hz seizure, though the efficacy of these drugs was reduced when compared to the lower stimulation intensities. Intense c-Fos staining from 6 Hz seizures induced by 22 and 32 mA stimulus intensities remained localized to the amygdala and piriform cortex. Increasing the stimulus intensity to 44 mA resulted in additional heavy staining of the dentate gyrus. This recruitment of the dentate gyrus may account for the decrease in potency of levetiracetam and valproic acid at 44 mA. The pharmacological results combined with the c-Fos immunohistochemistry suggest that the 6 Hz stimulation may provide a useful model of therapy-resistant limbic seizures.