BACKGROUND: Although epilepsy is relatively common, only a limited number of specialized epilepsy centers exist in the United States. Therefore, epilepsy diagnosis and management frequently occur in the community setting. This can complicate patient management and suboptimal care is a potential concern. Delayed recognition and inadequate treatment increase the risk of subsequent seizures, brain damage, disability, and death from seizure-related injuries. To identify core elements of epilepsy management that should be offered to all patients, the Leadership in Epilepsy, Advocacy, and Development (LEAD) faculty assessed current practical issues and identified practices to improve patient care and outcomes. SCOPE: This paper presents a consensus opinion formed from a survey of 26 current LEAD faculty members, who answered 105 questions about epilepsy diagnosis and patient evaluation, treatment decisions, lifelong monitoring, and the management of special patient subgroups. Consensus agreement was concluded when >or=50% of the faculty provided the same answer. The results were compiled and areas of consensus are included in this report. The recommendations provided in this commentary are limited by the scope of the survey. FINDINGS: Consensus was reached on several minimum standard patient management practices. Primary among these minimum standards of care is the need for diagnosis including a detailed medical history, neurological examination, discussions with caregivers, and diagnostic tests including electroencephalograms and magnetic resonance imaging. As the overall goals of therapy include seizure freedom, minimizing side effects, and improving quality of life and long-term safety, therapy decisions should consider parameters that affect these goals, including potential adverse effects of therapy. Antiepileptic drug selection should consider coexisting conditions for possible exacerbation of disease and potential drug-drug interactions. CONCLUSIONS: The core elements of epilepsy management identified here suggest minimum standards that can be used across all settings to improve consistency and quality of epilepsy diagnosis and care.