The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of epilepsy in persons with Down's syndrome aged 19 years and over. A total of 191 adults with Down's syndrome were identified, giving a prevalence of 0.76/1000 (95% CI 0.75 to 0.77). Of these, 18 had epilepsy, giving a prevalence of 9.4% (95% CI 5.3% to 13.5%). The prevalence of epilepsy increased with age, reaching 46% in those over 50. The neurophysiological (EEG) findings of the epilepsy group were compared with those of a control group of Down's syndrome adults without epilepsy. Paroxysmal abnormalities consistent with a diagnosis of epilepsy were found in 80% of the epilepsy group, compared with only 13% of controls (P < 0.001). Epilepsy of late onset was associated with diffuse EEG abnormalities and clinical evidence of dementia. The age distribution and EEG findings suggest two independent processes in the causation of epilepsy: late-onset epilepsy associated with clinical evidence of dementia, and early-onset epilepsy in the absence of dementia.