Twenty-two rats were subjected to 8, 15, 30, or 60 minutes of temporary middle cerebral artery occlusion (n = 5 per group) or sham occlusion (n = 2) in the magnetic resonance imaging unit. Diffusion-, perfusion-, and T2-weighted imaging were acquired before and during occlusion, and after reperfusion. A coregistration method was used to correlate the acute changes of the average apparent diffusion coefficient (ADCav) with the histology after 72 hours at the same topographic sites. The initially reduced ADCav values recovered completely in both the lateral caudoputamen and upper frontoparietal cortex in the 8-, 15-, and 30-minute groups, partially in the cortex, and not at all in the caudoputamen in the 60-minute group. The histology showed that the caudoputamen was either normal or had mild neuronal injury in the 8-minute group and invariably had some degree of neuronal death in the 15-, 30-, and 60-minute groups, whereas the cortex was either normal or had varying degrees of neuronal injury in all groups. No histological abnormalities were seen in the sham-operated rats. Our data suggest that acute ADCav reversal does not always predict tissue recovery from ischemic injury and that temporary focal ischemia for even 8-minute duration can cause delayed neuronal death that is more severe in the caudoputamen where the initial ADCav decline was greater than in the cortex.