Volume conduction models can help in acquiring knowledge about the distribution of the electric field induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation. One aspect of a detailed model is an accurate description of the cortical surface geometry. Since its estimation is difficult, it is important to know how accurate the geometry has to be represented. Previous studies only looked at the differences caused by neglecting the complete boundary between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and grey matter (Thielscher et al 2011 NeuroImage 54 234-43, Bijsterbosch et al 2012 Med. Biol. Eng. Comput. 50 671-81), or by resizing the whole brain (Wagner et al 2008 Exp. Brain Res. 186 539-50). However, due to the high conductive properties of the CSF, it can be expected that alterations in sulcus width can already have a significant effect on the distribution of the electric field. To answer this question, the sulcus width of a highly realistic head model, based on T1-, T2- and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images, was altered systematically. This study shows that alterations in the sulcus width do not cause large differences in the majority of the electric field values. However, considerable overestimation of sulcus width produces an overestimation of the calculated field strength, also at locations distant from the target location. © 2013 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.