Epileptic patients who had undergone the carotid amytal test were assessed on a variety of measures of verbal and nonverbal ability. All patients had left-hemisphere dysfunction early in life, before 1 year of age. In males, such damage results in generalized cognitive retardation regardless of the status of the cerebral speech pattern. In females, intellectual retardation is linked specifically to a shift in speech processes. This sex-related difference in behavioral outcome may reflect interruption at different maturational stages and/or the influences of the immediate hormonal milieu.