Comedication with phenytoin and carbamazepine is frequently used in patients with refractory seizures, although the benefit of this strategy has not been established. To assess whether the combination is a rational anticonvulsant treatment, we determined the therapeutic index (toxicity:efficacy ratio) for the drugs, alone and together, in mice. The individual agents were virtually identical in anticonvulsant and neurotoxic activity, and combined use had no additional therapeutic advantage. Analysis of drug concentrations in brain showed an additive pharmacodynamic interaction for phenytoin and carbamazepine, indicating that the combination is unlikely to be superior to either drug alone. Thus, we find no experimental justification for the simultaneous use of phenytoin and carbamazepine in the treatment of epilepsy.