Purpose. The aim of this study was to describe the experience of return to work (RTW) after stroke from the patient's perspective.Method. Six patients who had their first ever stroke in 2001, were <65 years of age and were working at the time of their stroke were included. Information was obtained via an open-ended interview. The material was transcribed verbatim and analysed using Giorgi's empirical phenomenology.Results. Rehabilitation was perceived as primarily aimed at restoring bodily functions and a return to everyday activities, rather than at promoting a return to work. It was not experienced as adapted to the participants' needs or their age. The workplace was experienced as very important in the rehabilitation process. When the informants experienced that the rehabilitation professionals were not taking action, they took control of the situation themselves. The informants expressed pride in their own capacity to take the initiative and in their ability to take action. Both self-employed and employed informants said they had possibilities and opportunities to take action since their work situation was flexible. The informants' adaptation to a new role at work was perceived as facilitated by the understanding and positive attitude of co-workers.Conclusion. Among this group of stroke patients, the individual patient's capacity and ability to return to work was enhanced by motivation or "will" and self-efficacy in combination with external support. Self-efficacy was not only a personal trait or internal factor; it was enhanced and encouraged in interaction with contextual conditions. There are similarities between the RTW process and processes of health promotion.