the aim of this study was to establish the rate and spectrum of psychiatric disorder among children before and after temporal lobe surgery for epilepsy. data were examined for associations between psychopathology and seizure outcome following surgery, or association between psychopathology and other variables, such as laterality of lesion, sex, cognitive level, and underlying pathology. participants were 60 children (35 males, 25 females) who had focal seizures of temporal lobe origin and who had undergone temporal lobe resection between 1992 and 1998; mean age at time of operation 10y 7mo, (sd 4y 11mo) range 7mo to 17y 11mo. mean length of follow-up was 5.1 years (sd 2.3, range 2 to 10y). twenty-eight (47%) children had undergone right temporal lobectomy. diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder was present in 50/60 (83%) children at some point, with high rates of psychiatric comorbidity. common childhood psychiatric disorders of attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder, and emotional disorders were present in about 25% of children. disorders rarely seen in the general child population were over-represented: disruptive behaviour disorder – not otherwise specified (30/60 [50%]), and pervasive developmental disorder (autistic spectrum disorder; 23/60 [38%]). there was no significant relationship between pathology, sex, seizure frequency, or postoperative seizure outcome and psychiatric disorder, other than for pervasive developmental disorder. the same proportion of children had psychiatric diagnoses pre- and postoperatively (43/60 [72%] and 41/57 [72%] respectively). although mental health problems are common in children undergoing temporal lobe resection, there are few predictors of psychiatric outcome following epilepsy surgery. parents require counselling on these issues in the preoperative work-up.