PURPOSE: gamma-Amino butyric acid (GABA) and glutamate, respectively the principal inhibitory and excitatory neurochemicals in the brain, are visible to proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). We report a study of GABA+ (GABA plus homocarnosine) and GLX (glutamate plus glutamine) concentrations in the occipital lobes in patients with idiopathic generalised epilepsy (IGE) and in patients with occipital lobe epilepsy (OLE). METHODS: Fifteen patients with IGE, 15 patients with OLE, and 15 healthy volunteers were studied. A single voxel was prescribed in the occipital lobes for each subject. PRESS localised short-echo-time MRS was performed to measure GLX by using LCModel. A double quantum GABA filter was used to measure GABA+. Segmented T1-weighted images gave the tissue composition of the prescribed voxel. RESULTS: Grey-matter proportion, GLX, and GABA+ were all elevated in IGE. However, analysis using grey-matter proportion as a covariable showed no significant group differences. No correlation was observed between GABA+ concentration and either seizure frequency or time since last seizure. CONCLUSIONS: GLX and GABA+ were elevated in IGE. Elevated grey-matter content in the IGE group despite normal MRI appearance can be expected to account for some or all of this observed elevation of GLX and GABA+. GABA+ concentration did not correlate with seizure control or duration since most recent seizure.