Though the ischemic penumbra has been classically described on the basis of blood flow and physiologic parameters, a variety of ischemic penumbras can be described in molecular terms. Apoptosis-related genes induced after focal ischemia may contribute to cell death in the core and the selective cell death adjacent to an infarct. The HSP70 heat shock protein is induced in glia at the edges of an infarct and in neurons often at some distance from the infarct. HSP70 proteins are induced in cells in response to denatured proteins that occur as a result of temporary energy failure. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is also induced after focal ischemia in regions that can extend beyond the HSP70 induction. The region of HIF induction is proposed to represent the areas of decreased cerebral blood flow and decreased oxygen delivery. Immediate early genes are induced in cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, and other brain regions. These distant changes in gene expression occur because of ischemia-induced spreading depression or depolarization and could contribute to plastic changes in brain after stroke.