The Merci Retriever is a device used for mechanical clot extraction in cerebral arteries. It obtained US FDA clearance in August 2004 for recanalization of cerebral arteries in acute stroke. Previously, intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator administered within 3 h from symptom onset was the only other FDA-approved treatment in acute stroke. Stroke from large brain artery occlusion, which has the highest morbidity and mortality rate, is inefficiently treated with intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator and has a high likelihood of hemorrhagic complication. In the multicenter prospective Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia trial that led to FDA clearance, the Merci Retriever achieved 48% vessel recanalization when used within 8 h of stroke onset, and resulted in lower morbidity and mortality in revascularized patients. Clinical efficacy trials are needed to determine the place of this device in the treatment of stroke patients.