The potential efficacy of temporal and extratemporal resection in patients with partial epilepsy uncontrolled by anti-epileptic drugs is undisputed. However, there are still uncertainties about which patients will benefit most. A systematic review of the available literature has been undertaken by four pairs of reviewers to assess the overall outcome of epilepsy surgery and to identify factors better correlated to seizure outcome. A Medline search for studies on epilepsy surgery published since 1984 was performed. Studies were included if they had a well-defined population and design, a sample size of at least 30 patients, an MRI performed in least 90% of cases, an expected duration of follow-up of at least one year, and a post-operative outcome measured as seizure remission. A good outcome was considered as seizure control or seizure-free status for at least one year or Engel class I. Based on the review of 47 articles meeting all the eligibility criteria, febrile seizures (odds ratio, OR, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.27-0.83), mesial temporal sclerosis (OR 0.47; 95% CI 0.35-0.64), tumors (OR 0.58; 95% CI 0.42-0.80), abnormal MRI (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.29-0.65), EEG/MRI concordance (OR 0.52; 95% CI 0.32-0.83), and extensive surgical resection (OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.16-0.36) were the strongest prognostic indicators of seizure remission (positive predictors); by contrast, post-operative discharges (OR 2.41; 95% CI 1.37-4.27) and intracranial monitoring (OR 2.72; 95% CI 1.60-4.60) predicted an unfavorable prognosis (negative predictors). Firm conclusions cannot be drawn for extent of resection, EEG/MRI concordance and post-operative discharges for the heterogeneity of study results. Neuromigrational defects, CNS infections, vascular lesions, interictal spikes, and side of resection did not affect the chance of seizure remission after surgery. Despite a number of limitations, the results of the review provide some insight into the selection of the best surgical candidates in clinical practice but raise concerns on the quality of published reports, and may serve as the basis for the identification of better standards to assess surgical outcome in observational studies.