The aim of the present study was to quantitate the temporal changes in protein concentration for interleukin (IL)-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-1ra, and IL-6 from 1 h to 15 days following focal ischemia. Protein expression was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay utilizing newly available rat antibodies. There were no detectable basal levels of IL-1alpha, 1L-1beta, or IL-6 in the sham-operated or non-ischemic control cortex. IL-1beta (increased significantly (P<0.05) as early as 4 h and peaked at 3 to 5 days. IL-1alpha (increased significantly (P<0.05) at 3 days. IL-6 increased early and peaked at 24 h (P<0.05). IL-1ra increased significantly (P<0.05) over basal levels from 12 h to 5 days. The present study provides the first quantitative determination of interleukin protein concentrations in the rat brain following focal stroke and demonstrates that this technology is now available for mechanistic studies in neuroprotection.