Epidemiological studies focusing on first-ever seizures have been carried out mainly on community based populations. However, since hospital populations may display varying clinical features, we prospectively analysed patients with first-ever seizure in a hospital based community to evaluate prognosis and the role of complementary investigations in the decision to administer antiepileptic drugs (AED). Over one year, we recruited 177 consecutive adult patients with a first seizure acutely evaluated in our hospital. During six months' follow-up data relating to AED treatment, recurrence of seizures and death were collected for each patient. Neurological examination was abnormal in 72.3%, neuroimaging in 54.8% and biochemical tests in 57.1%. Electroencephalogram (EEG) showed epileptiform features in 33.9%. Toxicity represented the most common aetiology. AED was prescribed in 51% of patients. Seizure recurrence at six months involved 31.6% of patients completing the follow-up; mortality was 17.8%. Statistical analysis showed that brain CT, EEG and neurological examination are independent predictive factors for AED administration, but only CT scan is associated with outcome. Patients evaluated acutely for first-ever seizure in a hospital setting have severe underlying clinical conditions apparently related to their relatively poor prognosis. Neuroimaging represents the most important paraclinical test in predicting both treatment administration and outcome.