Concepts for stroke units that cover the acute phase vary. Therefore, the network of acute stroke units that is being set up in Austria in a uniform way is of general interest. This nationwide network has been established in accordance to evidence-based recommendations and prespecified criteria for available resources. The location for such a unit follows a maximum of 90-min isochrones (transport time) to the hospital. The quality of the network is currently documented and the results are reported. A nationwide stroke registry was prospectively performed on 15 stroke units that were already functional in this network. The aim was to document the quality performance of Austrian stroke units, focusing on rapid admissions, ready availability of investigations and therapies performed. Outcome measures were Barthel scale, Rankin score and percentages of complications. Between August 1998 and December 2000, 2,313 patients with ischemic stroke or with primary intracerebral hemorrhage admitted to an Austrian stroke unit within 24 h after onset of symptoms were prospectively included. Forty-three percent of the patients had a moderate or severe stroke. Fifty-seven percent of all patients were admitted to the stroke unit within 3 h after the onset of symptoms. Twenty-seven percent of these patients were brought in by ambulance accompanied by an emergency physician. Two percent of patients were admitted by helicopter. Fifty-four percent of patients had their first brain imaging within 30 min after admission, another 26% within 3 h. Intravenous thrombolysis was performed in 4.1% of patients. The overall stroke-unit mortality was about 6.8% and mortality at 3 months was 12.9%. The outcome at 3 months showed a modified Rankin Scale score of 0 or 1 in 47% of patients, denoting none or mild impairment. This network of acute stroke units is highly efficient in terms of rapid admissions, short intrahospital delays, as well as rapid use of readily available investigations. Stroke units seem to be well accepted by the general public and the medical community because our data show that all types of strokes are treated in Austrian stroke units, including severe strokes. The total number of concurrently treated acute strokes in other institutions across Austria is not known and no formal comparison with other systems of hospitalized care was undertaken, therefore further research is necessary.