The risk of recurrent stroke in patients who have suffered a prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) is significant. It is imperative that individuals who report symptoms of a cerebrovascular event receive immediate medical attention--preferably at a hospital--to help determine its origin and impact. Many researchers recommend that any evaluation include neuroimaging studies to target those patients who would benefit most from secondary prevention, such as antithrombotic therapy. This article defines the 2 main types of stroke and their respective subtypes and discusses the debate over how to define stroke versus TIA. Additionally, the article talks about the incidence of stroke, related morbidity and mortality rates, and several risk factors that predispose an individual to stroke and recurrent stroke. Several systems have been established to help determine the likelihood of stroke for patients with concurrent risk factors. Measures for secondary prevention can be initiated to address many of these risk factors. The importance of early intervention cannot be underestimated. Rapid treatment following a stroke or TIA can minimize cerebrovascular damage and prevent recurrence; addressing modifiable risk factors can reduce the risk of subsequent cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. Facilitating the initiation of effective secondary preventive therapy must become a priority in managed care.