Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological conditions worldwide, with an age-adjusted incidence of approximately 50 per 100 000 persons per year in developed countries. Antiepileptic therapy can result in long-term remission in 60–70% of patients, but many patients will require combination treatment to achieve optimal seizure control, as monotherapy is ineffective at controlling seizures in 30–53% of patients. Despite the increase in available treatment options, patient outcomes have not improved significantly and there is still a need for more effective therapies. Drugs used in the treatment of focal-onset seizures are a diverse range of compounds, and in most cases their mechanism of action is unknown or poorly defined. This review discusses the efficacy and safety of the newer adjuvant antiepileptic therapies that may improve outcomes in patients unresponsive to monotherapy, including clobazam, vigabatrin, lamotrigine, gabapentin, topiramate, tiagabine, levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, pregabalin, zonisamide and eslicarbazepine, with focus on lacosamide. Lacosamide has been shown to exert its anticonvulsant effects predominantly by enhancement of the slow inactivation of voltage-gated sodium channels. Lacosamide is indicated for use as adjuvant treatment of focal-onset seizures in patients with epilepsy, and there is some evidence that it may also be of use in patients with status epilepticus and cancer patients with epilepsy. The efficacy of lacosamide has been assessed in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, all of which have shown lacosamide to be effective at reducing seizure frequency and increasing 50% responder rates in patients with focal-onset seizures. Long-term lacosamide treatment is generally well tolerated and is not associated with significant drug interactions; the availability of an intravenous form of the drug also makes it particularly useful for a broad range of patients.