A community-based epidemiological study of neurological disorders was performed in a rural area in Ethiopia. The most prevalent neurological disorder identified was epilepsy, found in 316 persons. The prevalence of epilepsy was 5.2/1000 inhabitants at risk, 5.8 for males, 4.6 for females. The highest age-specific prevalence was found for ages 10–19 years. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures were the most common seizure type and occurred in 81%. On clinical grounds, partial seizures occurred in 20% and in 29% of these secondary generalization followed. During seizures, 8.5% had been injured by burns and 5.7% by trauma. Eighty-four percent had seizures at least monthly. Seizures occurred in 4.8% of siblings. Traditional treatment with local herbs, holy water and amulets was the most common. Only 1.6% had been treated with recognized antiepileptic drugs. Mental retardation was the most common associated disorder, found in 7.9% of the persons with epilepsy. During a period of 2 years, 8 persons died of status epilepticus and 1 from severe burns as a result of falling into a domestic fire during a seizure. EEG was recorded in 73%. Epileptiform activity occurred in 18%.