Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), the most common form of partial epilepsy in adults is often refractory to medical treatment and in these patients epilepsy surgery is considered. Successful surgery is dependent on accurate localisation and lateralisation of the epileptogenic zone. The preoperative evaluation involves a series of assessments and investigations including detailed clinical history, interictal EEG, video-EEG monitoring, MRI, PET, SPECT, and neuropsychology and neuropsychiatric assessment. The role of each of these investigations and assessments in the preoperative evaluation is discussed. Advanced MR techniques including magnetic resonance spectroscopy, MR diffusion and MR perfusion have recently been assessed and are likely to enhance the pre-surgical evaluation of patients with TLE. The surgical outcome and preoperative investigations performed of 80 consecutive patients who underwent temporal lobe surgery between 1993 and 2002 at Royal Melbourne Hospital were reviewed. All patients had MRI, video-EEG monitoring and neuropsychology assessment and 56% a PET scan. During a mean follow-up of 5.9 years 75% had Class 1 outcome, 22% non-Class 1 outcome and 3% were lost to follow-up. The results of preoperative investigations were correlated with outcome. For interictal EEG, seizure semiology, ictal EEG, PET and neuropsychology assessment the surgical outcome of patients in whom results were concordant to side of surgery was compared with those discordant or non-lateralising. There was no significant difference. In 78 of 80 patients MRI revealed mesial temporal sclerosis or a foreign tissue lesion. The outcome was no different between these two groups. Results suggest that in patients with unilateral temporal lobe lesion on MRI and where ictal EEG is either concordant or non-lateralising, other investigations including PET, provide little additional prognostic information.