The ketogenic diet remains a valuable therapeutic option for patients with intractable epilepsy. Clinical aspects of the diet's success may provide insights into epileptogenesis and anticonvulsant action. The diet's efficacy has been established primarily through large case series. The diet has been used successfully in patients with many different epilepsy syndromes in countries around the world. Potential adverse effects can be avoided with careful attention during the diet's initiation and maintenance phases. In the last decade, variations to the classical ketogenic diet have been utilized. Ketogenic diets now are being used for diseases other than epilepsy. This critical analysis of the diet should provide the impetus for further clinical and basic research into the diet's application and mechanisms of action.