Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD), which is caused by malformations of cortical development, is known to be a major cause of intractable epilepsy. Cortical laminar disorganization and the presence of abnormal neuronal and astroglial cell types are histological characteristics of FCD. Though, little information is known about the microglia/macrophage cell system in FCD and its possible contribution to the high epileptogenesis of this disorder. In the present study, the distribution of cells of the microglia/macrophage lineage was studied in 20 specimens of FCD (type II) by immunocytochemistry for CD68 and human HLA-DR. A significant number of microglial cells and macrophages were observed within the dysplastic cortex. The mean number of CD68- and HLA-DR-positive cells was significantly higher in FCD specimens than in normal-appearing control cortex obtained at autopsy. HLA-DR-positive cells, which represent activated microglia, were localized around blood vessels and also clustered around dysplastic neuronal cells. The density of these activated HLA-DR-positive microglial cells correlated with the duration of epilepsy, as well as with the frequency of seizures prior to surgical resection. CD68-positive macrophages were mainly located around vessels and the number of these cells did not correlate with seizure frequency, neither with the duration of symptoms prior to surgical resection. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate a specific and persistent increase in the numerical density of HLA-DR-positive activated microglia within the dysplastic region, supporting the contribution of the inflammatory response and proinflammatory molecules to the epileptogenicity of FCD.