PURPOSE: Anticonvulsants have a number of side effects and some of them may be attributed to a disturbance of serum trace metal homeostasis. Although they are minor building components in tissues, they play important functional roles in the peripheral and central nervous system. We measured serum copper and zinc levels in epileptic children who were treated with anticonvulsants to know the effects of anticonvulsants on serum copper and zinc levels. METHODS: Serum copper and zinc levels were determined in 64 epileptic patients receiving anticonvulsant therapy in Chungnam National University Hospital, and in 20 normal controls. Sixty-four epileptic patients were divided into three groups:16 patients who were treated with valproic acid monotherapy; 26 patients who were treated with valproic acid in addition to other anticonvulsants; and 22 patients who were treated with anticonvulsants except for valporic acid. RESULTS: All patients receiving anticonvulsants had significantly lower serum copper levels(80.21+/-19.42 microgram/dL) in comparison to the normal controls(102.12+/-32.8 microgram/dL). Serum zinc levels in patients receiving anticonvulsants(79.78+/-21.88 microgram/dL) were not statistically different from those of controls (85.26+/-29.81 microgram/dL). There were no significant difference of serum copper and zinc levels among the three groups. CONCLUSION: In this study, we clearly showed that anticonvulsants decreased serum copper levels. Although we did not observe any clinical findings related to copper deficiency, we should pay attention to potent copper deficiency in patients with anticonvulsant treatment.