The purpose of this study was to determine the prognostic accuracy of perfusion computed tomography (CT), performed at the time of emergency room admission, in acute stroke patients. Accuracy was determined by comparison of perfusion CT with delayed magnetic resonance (MR) and by monitoring the evolution of each patient's clinical condition. Twenty-two acute stroke patients underwent perfusion CT covering four contiguous 10mm slices on admission, as well as delayed MR, performed after a median interval of 3 days after emergency room admission. Eight were treated with thrombolytic agents. Infarct size on the admission perfusion CT was compared with that on the delayed diffusion-weighted (DWI)-MR, chosen as the gold standard. Delayed magnetic resonance angiography and perfusion-weighted MR were used to detect recanalization. A potential recuperation ratio, defined as PRR = penumbra size/(penumbra size + infarct size) on the admission perfusion CT, was compared with the evolution in each patient's clinical condition, defined by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS). In the 8 cases with arterial recanalization, the size of the cerebral infarct on the delayed DWI-MR was larger than or equal to that of the infarct on the admission perfusion CT, but smaller than or equal to that of the ischemic lesion on the admission perfusion CT; and the observed improvement in the NIHSS correlated with the PRR (correlation coefficient = 0.833). In the 14 cases with persistent arterial occlusion, infarct size on the delayed DWI-MR correlated with ischemic lesion size on the admission perfusion CT (r = 0.958). In all 22 patients, the admission NIHSS correlated with the size of the ischemic area on the admission perfusion CT (r = 0.627). Based on these findings, we conclude that perfusion CT allows the accurate prediction of the final infarct size and the evaluation of clinical prognosis for acute stroke patients at the time of emergency evaluation. It may also provide information about the extent of the penumbra. Perfusion CT could therefore be a valuable tool in the early management of acute stroke patients.