Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing epidemiological transition. Stroke and other vascular diseases increasingly contribute to the burden of disease. There are no systematic reviews of stroke mortality, prevalence, incidence, and case fatality. We combined a thorough search and critical assessment of the published research. Stroke mortality is as high, perhaps higher, than in high-income regions and increases with age in sub-Saharan Africa as in high-income countries, but the absolute number of stroke deaths remains low. There are no adequate community-based stroke incidence studies. Hospital-based incidence is lower than in high-income regions, but higher in young people, possibly due to hospital admission bias. There are no community-based data on case fatality, but hospital-based case fatality is higher than elsewhere. The prevalence of stroke is lower than in high-income regions, but disabling stroke is as prevalent. As the region develops economically, the incidence of stroke and other vascular diseases will increase unless interventions are implemented. Only community-based incidence studies will accurately reveal the burden of stroke.