Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in developed countries. Yet, in spite of substantial research and development efforts, no specific therapy for stroke is available. Several mechanism for neuroprotection have been explored including ion channels, excitatory amino acids and oxygen radicals yet none has culminated in an effective therapeutic effect. The review article on "inflammation and stroke" summarizes key data in support for the possibility that inflammatory cells and mediators are important contributing and confounding factors in ischemic brain injury. In particular, the role of cytokines, endothelial cells and leukocyte adhesion molecules, nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase (COX-2) products are discussed. Furthermore, the potential role for certain cytokines in modulation of brain vulnerability to ischemia is also reviewed. The data suggest that novel therapeutic strategies may evolve from detailed research on some specific inflammatory factors that act in spatial and temporal relationships with traditionally recognized neurotoxic factors. The dual nature of some mediators in reformatting of brain cells for resistance or sensitivity to injury demonstrate the delicate balance needed in interventions based on anti-inflammatory strategies.