Epilepsy is a prevalent neurological disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality, but the only available drug therapies target its symptoms rather than the underlying cause. The process that links brain injury or other predisposing factors to the subsequent emergence of epilepsy is termed epileptogenesis. Substantial research has focused on elucidating the mechanisms of epileptogenesis so as to identify more specific targets for intervention, with the hope of preventing epilepsy before seizures emerge. Recent work has yielded important conceptual advances in this field. We suggest that such insights into the mechanisms of epileptogenesis converge at the level of cortical circuit dysfunction.