Few comparative clinical trials of newer antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in patients with refractory partial epilepsy are available. Therefore, meta-analysis is a widely used and useful method for comparing them. Despite the limitations of indirect comparisons, and recognizing that these drugs were tested at different doses, such comparisons can be helpful to physicians making practical treatment decisions. The purposes of this study were to present newer meta-analysis results for add-on levetiracetam compared with placebo and to estimate its efficacy and tolerability compared with other new AEDs (gabapentin, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, tiagabine, topiramate, and zonisamide) in a meta-analysis using methods for making indirect comparisons. Randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials of add-on therapy with levetiracetam, gabapentin, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, tiagabine, topiramate, and zonisamide in patients with refractory partial epilepsy were identified in the Cochrane Library 2002. A fixed-effects model was used to estimate Mantel-Haenszel odds ratios for the responder rate (efficacy measure) and withdrawal rate (mainly tolerability measure) of levetiracetam and other new AEDs versus placebo. Because no head-to-head clinical trials comparing these new AEDs exist, adjusted indirect comparisons were then made between levetiracetam and each other AED using the meta-analysis results. At the doses tested, levetiracetam was more effective in terms of responder rate than gabapentin (odds ratio 2.64 with 95% CI 1.51-4.63) and lamotrigine (odds ratio 1.86 with 95% CI 1.04-3.34) and equally well tolerated. Levetiracetam had a significantly lower withdrawal rate than topiramate (odds ratio 0.52 with 95% CI 0.29-0.93) and oxcarbazepine (odds ratio 0.55 with 95% CI 0.33-0.92), with comparable efficacy. Although levetiracetam did not differ significantly from the other AEDs, numerical trends favoring levetiracetam were obtained in response rate and in withdrawal rate (tiagabine, zonisamide). Indirect comparisons based on meta-analysis suggest that add-on therapy with levetiracetam has a favorable responder and/or withdrawal rate relative to several AEDs in patients with partial epilepsy with doses used in clinical trials. These meta-analyses give only short-term efficacy and safety data. Comparative clinical trials and long-term studies of these agents are needed to confirm these findings.