The aim was to estimate ictal, pre- and postictal brain function changes in migraine in a blinded paired quantitative EEG (QEEG) study. EEG recordings (n = 119) from 40 migraineurs were retrospectively classified as ictal, interictal, preictal or postictal. δ, θ, α and β power, and hemispheric asymmetry in frontocentral, temporal and occipitoparietal regions were calculated from artefact-free EEG. Power and power asymmetry were calculated for two time-windows, 36 and 72 h before/after the attack, and compared with the interictal values. Frontocentral δ power increased (P = 0.03), whereas frontocentral θ and α power tended to increase (P < 0.09) within 36 h before the next attack compared with the interictal period. Occipitoparietal (α and θ) and temporal (α) power were more asymmetric before the attack compared with the interictal baseline (P < 0.04). Ictal posterior α power increased slightly (P = 0.01). Postictal power and power asymmetry were not significantly different from interictal baseline. EEG activity seems to change shortly before the attack. This suggests that migraineurs are most susceptible to attack when anterior QEEG δ power and posterior α and θ asymmetry values are high. Changed activity patterns in cholinergic brainstem or basal forebrain nuclei and thalamo-cortical connections before the migraine attack are hypothesized.