We assessed the risk and determined predictors of early epileptic seizures (ES) in patients with acute cerebral venous and sinus thrombosis (CVST). A prospective series of 194 consecutive patients with acute CVST admitted to neurological wards in two German university hospitals was analysed for frequency of ES and in-hospital mortality. Demographic, clinical and radiological characteristics during the acute stage were retrospectively analysed for significant association with ES in univariate and multivariate analyses. During the acute stage, 19 patients (9.8%) died. Early symptomatic seizures were found in 86 patients (44.3%). Status epilepticus occurred in 11 patients (12.8%) of whom four died. Amongst patients with epileptic seizures, mortality was three times higher in those with status than in those without (36.4% and 12%, respectively). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, motor deficit [odds ratio (OR) 5.8; 95% CI 2.98–11.42; P < 0.001], intracranial haemorrhage (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.46–5.56; P = 0.002) and cortical vein thrombosis (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.43–5.96; P = 0.003) were independent predictors of early epileptic seizures. Status epilepticus was an important source of morbidity and early mortality in patients with CVST in this study. Patients with focal motor deficits, cortical vein thrombosis and intracranial haemorrhage carried the highest risk for ES. Prophylactic antiepileptic treatment may be an option for these patients.