The association of attentional, neuropsychological, and behavioural abnormalities with Tourette's syndrome (TS) suggests that the abnormal function of the disorder extends beyond the motor circuits of the basal ganglia. To explore this possibility we studied, with conventional 18-channel electroencephalography, monozygotic twins ranging from 8 to 26 years of age, where at least one member of the twin pair suffered from TS. In nine out of the 11 twin pairs that differed in clinical severity of the tic disorder, the twin with the more severe course of illness had a significantly more abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) by qualitative visual analysis. Most of the differences were due to excessive frontocentral theta activity, suggesting dysfunction outside the basal ganglia. There was also a significant relationship between a lower global neuropsychological testing score and a worse overall EEG. In eight of nine twin sets with different global neuropsychological testing scores, the twin with the lower score had a worse EEG. A similar relationship was found between birth weight and overall EEG quality. In the nine sets that differed in birth weight, the twin with a lower birth weight had a worse EEG in seven of the sets. The EEG findings are unlikely to be a medication effect because the same result was seen in the six twin pairs who had been medication-free for at least six months before entry into the study. The origin of this slowing may relate to the interaction between environmental insults to the central nervous system and the genetic component of TS, an interaction producing damage to the cortex, thalamus, or both.