The emphasis of treatments for acute ischaemic stroke during the past two decades has been on revascularisation. Endovascular treatment is a promising alternative for patients who are ineligible for standard intravenous thrombolytic therapy; however, its use is limited by the few randomised trials reported and the small number of practising neurointerventionalists. Although data are still being collected, important progress has been made. In this Review, we summarise the findings of the major clinical trials of endovascular treatment, and show that endovascular treatment of acute ischaemic stroke is a therapeutic option for patients who are disqualified from or do not improve on treatment with intravenous alteplase. Moreover, the American Heart Association has expanded its guidelines to include endovascular stroke therapies as a treatment option.