Summary: We evaluated clinical indicators of genetic susceptibility to epilepsy in the families of 1,957 adults with epilepsy (probands) ascertained from voluntary organizations. Very few of the probands in this series had idiopathic epilepsy syndromes. Among relatives of probands with postnatal CNS insults, risks of epilepsy were no higher than in the general population. Risk was increased in relatives of probands without identified CNS insults (i.e., those with idiopathic/cryptogenic epilepsy) or with neurological deficit presumed present at birth, compared with relatives of probands with postnatal CNS insults. Among relatives of probands with idiopathic/cryptogenic epilepsy, risks were higher in parents and siblings, but not in offspring, of probands with generalized onset as compared with partial onset seizures. Risks in offspring were higher if the probands had onset of idiopathic/cryptogenic epilepsy before age 10 as compared with age 10 years, but risks in parents and siblings were not associated with the proband's age at onset. These results suggest that genetic susceptibility increases risk of some forms of cryptogenic epilepsy and of epilepsy associated with neurological deficit presumed present at birth, but not of postnatal symptomatic epilepsy. The influences on risk in offspring may differ from those in parents and siblings.