Several studies support the hypothesis that after stroke, specific features of brain function revert to those seen at an early stage of development, with the subsequent process of recovery recapitulating ontogeny in many ways. Many clinical characteristics of stroke recovery resemble normal development, particularly in the motor system. Consistent with this, brain-mapping studies after an ischemic insult suggest re-emergence of childhood organizational patterns: recovery being associated with a return to adult patterns. Experimental animal studies demonstrate increased levels of developmental proteins, particularly in the area surrounding an infarct, suggesting an active process of reconditioning in response to cerebral ischemia. Understanding the patterns of similarity between normal development and stroke recovery might be of value in its treatment.