Background: Efficacious and safe monotherapy options are needed for adult patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy. As an adjunctive treatment for partial seizures, pregabalin compares favourably with lamotrigine and is an effective, approved treatment. We studied the efficacy and safety of pregabalin as monotherapy, using a design that complied with European regulatory requirements and International League Against Epilepsy guidelines. Methods: This phase 3, double-blind, randomised, non-inferiority study compared the efficacy and tolerability of pregabalin and lamotrigine monotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed partial seizures at 105 centres, mostly in Europe and Asia. Randomisation to treatment groups (1:1 ratio) was by a computer-generated pseudorandom code (random permuted blocks), with patients sequentially assigned numbers by telephone. Investigators, site staff, and patients were masked to the assigned treatment. After randomisation, patients were titrated to either 75 mg oral pregabalin or 50 mg oral lamotrigine twice daily during a 4-week dose-escalation phase, followed by a 52-week efficacy assessment phase during which the daily dose could be increased as needed to a maximum of 600 mg and 500 mg, respectively. The primary efficacy endpoint was the proportion of patients who remained seizure-free for 6 or more continuous months during the efficacy assessment phase; analysis included all patients who were randomly assigned to treatment groups and received at least one dose of study treatment. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00280059. Findings: 660 patients were randomly assigned to treatment groups (330 pregabalin, 330 lamotrigine), of whom 622 entered the efficacy assessment phase (314 pregabalin, 308 lamotrigine). Fewer patients in the pregabalin group than in the lamotrigine group became seizure-free for 6 or more continuous months (162 [52%] vs 209 [68%]; difference in proportion, -0·16, 95% CI -0·24 to -0·09). The overall incidence of adverse events was similar between the groups and consistent with that in previous studies; dizziness (55 [17%] vs 45 [14%] patients), somnolence (29 [9%] vs 14 [4%]), fatigue (27 [8%] vs 19 [6%]), and weight increase (21 [6%] vs 7 [2%]) were numerically more common in the pregabalin group than in the lamotrigine group. Interpretation: Pregabalin has similar tolerability but seems to have inferior efficacy to lamotrigine for the treatment of newly diagnosed partial seizures in adults. Inferior efficacy of pregabalin might have been attributable to limitations in the study design, as treatment doses might have not been optimised adequately or early enough. Funding: Pfizer Inc.