Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an angiogenic factor produced in response to ischemic injury, promotes vascular permeability (VP). Evidence is provided that Src kinase regulates VEGF-mediated VP in the brain following stroke and that suppression of Src activity decreases VP thereby minimizing brain injury. Mice lacking pp60c-src are resistant to VEGF-induced VP and show decreased infarct volumes after stroke whereas mice deficient in pp59c-fyn, another Src family member, have normal VEGF-mediated VP and infarct size. Systemic application of a Src-inhibitor given up to six hours following stroke suppressed VP protecting wild-type mice from ischemia-induced brain damage without influencing VEGF expression. This was associated with reduced edema, improved cerebral perfusion and decreased infarct volume 24 hours after injury as measured by magnetic resonance imaging and histological analysis. Thus, Src represents a key intermediate and novel therapeutic target in the pathophysiology of cerebral ischemia where it appears to regulate neuronal damage by influencing VEGF-mediated VP.