OBJECTIVE To evaluate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics of the drugs used in the treatment of acute seizures and status epilepticus. DEVELOPMENT After emphasizing the clinical importance of seizure episodes and the pathophysiology of status epilepticus, we describe the ideal characteristics of the drugs used for their treatment. Subsequently we analyze the pharmacokinetic characteristics, efficacy and toxicity of phenobarbitone, phenytoin, diazepam and valproate given parenterally. Although the efficacy of the four drugs is similar when given parenterally, fewer side-effects are seen with valproate. CONCLUSIONS Parenteral valproate should be included in the normal guidelines for the treatment of convulsions. In this paper we include the recommended measures for the treatment of acute seizures and status epilepticus in childhood and suggest the development of similar measures for adult patients.