Patients with epilepsy have a mortality rate higher than that of the general population. Some of this excess mortality is attributable to sudden unexpected death (SUDEP). We examined the incidence of this phenomenon both retrospectively and prospectively in the population of South Dublin and Wicklow over the period May 1992-1995. Cases were ascertained by examination of post-mortem registers of hospitals serving the area studied. Information on cases was sought from hospital records, general practitioners and families. Fifteen cases (10 male, five female) were identified resulting in an overall incidence rate of SUDEP of 1:680/year for the 3 years of the study. This is the only study of incidence of SUDEP conducted in Ireland and our results are in keeping with incidence rates elsewhere in Europe and the USA.