If febrile seizures cause significant compromise of neuronal metabolism (whether permanent or reversible), this should be reflected in an increase in the cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of neuron-specific enolase (NSE) and/or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) breakdown products. In the present study, AMP, IMP, inosine, adenosine, guanosine, adenine, guanine, hypoxanthine, xanthine, uric acid and NSE concentrations were determined in the cerebrospinal fluid of 90 children 1 h after febrile seizure (73 simple febrile seizures (SFS); 17 complex febrile seizures (CFS)), and in a control group of 160 children. There was no statistically significant difference between the SFS group and the control group for any of the substances determined, suggesting that SFS neither significantly depletes neuronal ATP concentration, nor significantly increases NSE concentration; thus, SFS do not appear to constitute a threat to neuronal integrity. However, patients with CFS showed significantly lower IMP concentrations and significantly higher adenine concentrations than controls, and significantly higher AMP concentrations than SFS patients; these results suggest that CFS may affect energy metabolism in the brain. However, NSE concentrations were normal in the cerebrospinal fluid of both SFS and CFS patients, suggesting that neither type of seizure causes significant neuronal damage, at least early after the seizure.