Remission of seizures is a crucial measure of outcome in epilepsy. The National General Practice Study of Epilepsy (NGPSE) aimed to investigate the remission of patients with epilepsy and the effect of various factors on the likelihood of remission. The NGPSE is a prospective population-based study free from major selection bias. We enrolled 1091 patients with newly diagnosed or suspected epilepsy who attended one of 275 general practices throughout the UK between 1984 and 1987. Remission was analysed in those patients who were classified after 6 months as having definite epilepsy (n = 564) or possible epilepsy (n = 228). After 9 years from the index seizure, 86% (95% CI 81-90) of patients with definite epilepsy had achieved a remission of 3 years and 68% (61-75) a remission of 5 years. For the complete cohort, including those with possible epilepsy, the remission rates at 9 years were 87% (83-91) for 3-year remission and 71% (65-77) for 5-year remission. The proportion of patients with definite epilepsy who were still in remission at 9 years' follow-up (terminal remission) was 68% (62-74) for 3-year and 54% (48-60) for 5-year remission. 61% (56-68) of patients with idiopathic seizures and 61% (46-75) of those with remote symptomatic epilepsy had achieved 5-year remission by 9 years. Overall, age and seizure type had little effect on the chances of achieving remission. This study confirms the good outcome for seizure control in the majority of patients.