We studied premonitory symptoms in 128 patients with partial and 20 patients with primary generalized epilepsy. Sixty symptoms were reported by 43 (29%) patients, all of whom had partial seizure disorders (P < .01). Symptoms began at least 30 minutes before seizure onset, lasted 10 minutes to 3 days, and were continuous. Irritability, depression, headache, 'funny feeling', and confusion were the most common symptoms. Premonitory symptoms are a warning system in some patients and may permit therapeutic interventions.