The use of stem cell transplantation to restore neurological function after stroke is being recognized as a potential novel therapy. Before stem cell transplantation can become widely applicable, however, questions remain about the optimal site of delivery and timing of transplantation. In particular, there seems to be increasing evidence that intravascular cell delivery after stroke is a viable alternative to intracerebral transplantation. In this review, the authors focus on the intravascular delivery of stem cells for stroke treatment with an emphasis on timing, transendothelial migration and possible mechanisms leading to neuroprotection, angiogenesis, immunomodulation, and neural plasticity. They also review current concepts of in vivo imaging and tracking of stem cells after stroke.