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Seizures are a common complication associated with stroke. Poststroke status epilepticus is a life-threatening event and should be treated as early as possible. The choice of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) includes ‘classic’ (e.g. carbamazepine, phenytoin and valproic acid [sodium valproate]) and newer AEDs. Cost and availability considerations support the choice of a classic AED in many patients. However, the newer AEDs have advantages (e.g. more favourable safety profiles and fewer drug interactions) and their use should be considered in patients who do not tolerate the classic AEDs or in whom treatment with classic AEDs has failed.