Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in the form of obstructive sleep apnea is a possible risk factor for stroke. We carried out a cross-sectional survey out in a rehabilitation center among patients with first-ever stroke to further determine the incidence and types of SDB and its relationship to known risk factors for stroke. Full polysomnography was performed in 147 consecutive patients (95 men, 52 women, age 61+/-10 years) admitted to our neurological Rehabilitation Department 46+/-20 days after first-ever stroke. Subjective sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale), vascular risk factors, anthropometric data, and polysomnographic findings were compared between stroke patients with varying degrees of SDB. With a cutoff point for the respiratory disturbance index (RDI) of 5, 10, 15, or 20 the respective prevalence of SDB was 61%, 44%, 32%, and 22%. The type of SDB was generally obstructive, with dominant central apneas in only 6% of patients. Patients with an RDI of 20 or higher had less REM sleep, thicker necks, and a more central type of obesity. Even in patients with an RDI of 20 or higher subjective sleepiness, although higher than in those without SDB, was not a predominant symptom. Snoring and anthropometric data suggest that obstructive SDB may have existed prior to stroke. The prevalence of hypertension and coronary heart disease were higher among stroke patients with an RDI of 20 or higher than in those without SDB. We conclude that the prevalence of SDB among patients with stroke is high. Examination of stroke should include screening for SDB.