Eighteen consecutive patients undergoing dominant temporal lobectomy underwent preoperative cortical stimulation for language localization. Patients with naming deficits on anterior (4.5 cm from the temporal pole) temporal lobe stimulation had earlier seizure onset vs those without such deficits (5.8 yr vs 12.9 yr; p < 0.04). There was a similar trend for reading errors (6.3 yr vs 12.4 yr; p < 0.052). Resections always spared at least 1 cm anterior to any langauge area. There was no significant difference in postoperative neuropsychological tests between patients with and without anterior language representation. Early onset of dominant temporal lobe seizure foci leads to a more widespread or atypical distribution of language areas. Individual variability should be considered in epilepsy surgery to reduce postoperative language deficits.