Nonconvulsive status epilepticus may be subdivided into generalized (absence) status and complex partial status. The latter is regarded as a rarity, whereas the former constitutes the dominant part of the hitherto reported cases. We report 10 consecutive cases of adult patients with nonconvulsive status epilepticus, all documented by ictal electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings. Five had a complex partial status; the origin of the complex partial status appeared to be frontal in four of these patients. Three had recurrent complex partial seizures with incomplete recovery between seizures, and two had more continuous symptoms. One of the latter exhibited neither motor phenomena nor automatisms. The effect of diazepam or clonazepam was immediate in all 10 cases though transient in eight. A lasting control of the status was not achieved in six patients until i.v. phenytoin was added. The difficulties in the differentiation between complex partial status and absence status despite ictal EEG recordings are discussed, illustrated by a case with seizure discharges of a focal onset which rapidly generalized. The study indicates that complex partial status may be more common and the clinical expressions of absence status more variable than hitherto recognized.