This paper reports the results of a population study designed to assess the standards of epilepsy care within a geographical population in relation to diagnosis, seizure management and quality of life. One of the findings was the unexpectedly high frequency of the misdiagnosis of epilepsy. Forty-nine of 214 patients with a primary diagnosis of epilepsy were subsequently found to have been misdiagnosed following a specialist review and investigations. All except two have been withdrawn from antiepileptic medication. The diagnosis of epilepsy was disputed in a further 26 patients. Of the 49 patients, 20 were found to have cardiovascular or cerebrovascular pathology. Seven had only ever experienced a single seizure and a further 10 were found to have underlying psychopathology. Such observations support the view that epilepsy is frequently misdiagnosed and this paper discusses some of the implications of misdiagnosis.