Sleep spindles are known to appear spontaneously in the thalamocortical neuronal network of the brain during slow-wave sleep; pathological processes in the thalamocortical network may be the reason of the absence epilepsy. The aim of the present work is to study developed changes in the time-frequency structure of sleep spindles during the progressive development of the absence epilepsy in WAG/Rij rats. EEG recordings were made at age 7 and 9 months. Automatic recognition and subsequent analysis of sleep spindles on the EEG were performed using the continuous wavelet transform. The duration of epileptic discharges and the total duration of epileptic activity were found to increase with age, while the duration of sleep spindles, conversely, decreased. In terms of the mean frequency, sleep spindles could be divided into three classes: ‘slow’ (mean frequency 9.3Hz), ‘medium’ (11.4Hz), and ‘fast’ (13.5Hz). Slow and medium (transitional) spindles in five-month-old animals showed increased frequency from the beginning to the end of the spindle. The more intense the epilepsy is, the shorter are the durations of spindles of all types. The mean frequencies of ‘medium’ and ‘fast’ spindles were higher in rats with more intense signs of epilepsy. Overall, high epileptic activity in WAG/Rij rats was linked with significant changes in spindles of the transitional type, with less marked changes in the two traditionally identified types of spindle, slow and fast.