Background The majority of people with epilepsy have a good prognosis and their seizures are controlled by a single antiepileptic drug. However, up to 20% of patients from population-based studies, and up to 30% from clinical series (not population-based), develop drug-resistant epilepsy, especially those with focal-onset seizures. In this review, we summarise the current evidence regarding topiramate, an antiepileptic drug first marketed in 1996, when used as an add-on treatment for drug-resistant focal epilepsy. This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in 1999, and last updated in 2014. Objectives To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of topiramate when used as an add-on treatment for people with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. Search methods For the latest update of this review we searched the following databases on 2 July 2018: Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS Web), which includes the Cochrane Epilepsy Group Specialized Register and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); MEDLINE (Ovid, 1946-); ClinicalTrials.gov and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). We imposed no language restrictions. We also contacted the manufacturers of topiramate and researchers in the field to identify any ongoing or unpublished studies. Selection criteria Randomised, placebo-controlled add-on trials of topiramate, recruiting people with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. Data collection and analysis Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion and extracted the relevant data. We assessed the following outcomes: (1) 50% or greater reduction in seizure frequency; (2) seizure freedom; (3) treatment withdrawal (any reason); (4) adverse effects. Primary analyses were intention-to-treat (ITT), and summary risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) are presented. We evaluated dose-response in regression models. We carried out a 'Risk of bias' assessment for each included study using the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool and assessed the overall certainty of evidence using the GRADE approach. Main results We included 12 trials, representing 1650 participants. Baseline phases ranged from four to 12 weeks and double-blind phases ranged from 11 to 19 weeks. The RR for a 50% or greater reduction in seizure frequency with add-on topiramate compared to placebo was 2.71 (95% CI 2.05 to 3.59; 12 studies; high-certainty evidence). Dose regression analysis showed increasing effect with increasing topiramate dose demonstrated by an odds ratio (OR) of 1.45 (95% CI 1.28 to 1.64; P < 0.001) per 200 mg/d increase in topiramate dosage. The proportion of participants achieving seizure freedom was also significantly increased with add-on topiramate compared to placebo (RR 3.67, 95% CI 1.79 to 7.54; 8 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). Treatment withdrawal was significantly higher for add-on topiramate compared to placebo (RR 2.37, 95% CI 1.66 to 3.37; 12 studies; high-certainty evidence). The RRs for the following adverse effects indicate that they are significantly more prevalent with topiramate, compared to placebo: ataxia 2.29 (99% CI 1.10 to 4.77; 4 studies); concentration difficulties 7.81 (99% CI 2.08 to 29.29; 6 studies; moderate-certainty evidence); dizziness 1.52 (99% CI 1.07 to 2.16; 8 studies); fatigue 2.08 (99% CI 1.37 to 3.15; 10 studies); paraesthesia 3.65 (99% CI 1.58 to 8.39; 7 studies; moderate-certainty evidence); somnolence 2.44 (99% CI 1.61 to 3.68; 9 studies); 'thinking abnormally' 5.70 (99% CI 2.26 to 14.38; 4 studies; high-certainty evidence); and weight loss 3.99 (99% CI 1.82 to 8.72; 9 studies; low-certainty evidence). Evidence of publication bias for the primary outcome was found (Egger test, P = 0.001). We rated all studies included in the review as having either low or unclear risk of bias. Overall, we assessed the evidence as moderate to high certainty due to the evidence of publication bias, statistical heterogeneity and imprecision, which was partially compensated for by large effect sizes.