More than 150 years after bromide was introduced as the first antiepileptic drug, adverse effects remain a leading cause of treatment failure and a major determinant of impaired health-related quality of life in people with epilepsy. Adverse effects can develop acutely or many years after starting treatment and can affect any organ or structure. In the past two decades, many efforts have been made to reduce the burden of antiepileptic drug toxicity. Several methods to screen and quantify adverse effects have been developed. Patient profiles associated with increased risk of specific adverse effects have been uncovered through advances in the areas of epidemiology and pharmacogenomics. Several new-generation antiepileptic drugs with improved tolerability profiles and reduced potential for drug interaction have been added to the therapeutic armamentarium. Overall, these advances have expanded the opportunities to tailor treatment with antiepileptic drugs, to enhance effectiveness and minimise the risk of toxic effects.