Six hundred and ninety-four members of the Intensive Care Society working in the UK were surveyed by postal questionnaire between May and November 1993 to determine their management of convulsive status epilepticus resistant to initial therapy with intravenous diazepam and phenytoin. Four hundred and eight forms were completed and returned (58.8%). The survey revealed that, following failure of initial management, a benzodiazepine infusion (35%) or anaesthetic induction agent (32%) were the preferred second lines of treatment in intensive care units. In paediatric intensive care units, phenobarbitone (31%) was the agent of choice. Most respondents (57%) gave anaesthetic induction agents within 60 min of the start of status epilepticus, the majority choosing thiopentone (82%). Patients were usually monitored using clinical assessment only (45%), except in paediatric intensive care units and specialist neurological or neurosurgical units where the majority used a cerebral function monitor. Only 12% of the respondents were aware of a protocol for status epilepticus in their intensive care units. The most frequently used therapeutic and monitoring strategies in the management of refractory status epilepticus in the UK are insufficient and need re-evaluation.