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Sodium valproate has been in clinical use for the treatment of epilepsy in Great Britain since 1973 and in the United States since 1978. It is chemically quite different from the existing antiepileptic drugs. Although most authorities concentrate on its modification of GABAergic inhibitory transmission in the central nervous system, its mechanism of action remains obscure. It has been shown to be an effective antiepileptic drug in a wide variety of seizure types, but clinically, its major use to date has been in generalized seizures. It is particularly effective in photosensitive epilepsy and myoclonus. Most adverse reactions to sodium valproate are mild and reversible, but with increasing experience, the drug's rare, idiosyncratic, adverse effects are becoming apparent, particularly hepatotoxicity and teratogenicity. The role of therapeutic drug monitoring in the management of patients taking sodium valproate is controversial.