Middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke in the rat produces impairments in skilled movements. The lesion damages lateral neocortex but spares primary motor cortex (M1), raising the question of the origin of skilled movement deficits. Here, the behavioral deficits of MCA stroke were identified and then M1 was examined neurophysiologically and neuroanatomically. Rats were trained on a food skilled reaching task then the lateral frontal cortex was damaged by unilateral MCA electrocoagulation contralateral to the reaching forelimb. Reach testing and training on two tasks was conducted over 30 post-surgical days. Later, M1 and the corticospinal tract were investigated using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS), anterograde and retrograde axon tracing. A skilled reaching impairment was observed post-surgery, which partly recovered with time and training. ICMS revealed a diminished forelimb movement representation in MCA rats, but a face representation comparable in size to sham rats. Anterograde and retrograde tract tracing suggest that M1 efferents were intact. Although M1 appears to be in the main anatomically spared after MCA stroke its function as assessed electrophysiologically and behaviorally is disrupted.