Precipitation and inhibition of seizures and epileptic discharges by sensory stimuli are receiving increasing attention because they provide insight into natural seizure generation in human epilepsies and can identify potential nonpharmacological therapies. We aimed to investigate modulation (provocation or inhibition) of epileptiform discharges (EDs) in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) versus idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) by olfactory stimulation (OS) compared with standard provocation methods. The underlying hypothesis was that any response would be more likely to occur in MTLE, considering the anatomical connections of the temporal lobe to the olfactory system. This multicenter, international study recruited patients with either MTLE or IGE who were systematically compared for responses to OS using an EEG/video-EEG protocol including a 30-min baseline, twice 3-min olfactory stimulation with ylang-ylang, hyperventilation, and intermittent photic stimulation. The 95% confidence interval (CI) for the baseline EDs in each patient was calculated, and modulation was assumed when the number of EDs during any 3-min test period was outside this CI. A total of 134 subjects (55 with MTLE, 53 with IGE, and 26 healthy controls) were included. Epileptiform discharges were inhibited during OS in about half the patients with both MILE and IGE, whereas following OS, provocation was seen in 29.1% of patients with MILE and inhibition in 28.3% of patients with IGE. Olfactory stimulation was less provocative than standard activation methods. The frequent subclinical modulation of epileptic activity in both MTLE and IGE is in striking contrast with the rarity of reports of olfactory seizure precipitation and arrest. Inhibition during OS can be explained by nonspecific arousal. The delayed responses seem to be related to processing of olfactory stimuli in the temporal lobe, thalamus, and frontal cortex. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.