Since the early 1990s, many new antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) that offer appreciable advantages in terms of their favourable pharmacokinetics, improved tolerability and lower potential for drug-drug interactions have entered the market. However, despite the therapeutic arsenal of old and new AEDs, approximately 30% of patients with epilepsy still suffer from seizures. Thus, there remains a substantial need for the development of more efficacious AEDs for patients with refractory seizures. Here, we briefly review the emerging knowledge on the pathological basis of epilepsy and how it might best be used in the design of new therapeutics. We also discuss the current approach to AED discovery and highlight some of the unique features of newer models of pharmacoresistance and epileptogenesis that have emerged in recent years.