Lymphocyte recruitment and activation have been implicated in the progression of cerebral ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury, but the roles of specific lymphocyte subpopulations and cytokines during stroke remain to be clarified. Here we demonstrate that the infiltration of T cells into the brain, as well as the cytokines interleukin-23 (IL-23) and IL-17, have pivotal roles in the evolution of brain infarction and accompanying neurological deficits. Blockade of T cell infiltration into the brain by the immunosuppressant FTY720 reduced I/R-induced brain damage. The expression of IL-23, which was derived mostly from infiltrated macrophages, increased on day 1 after I/R, whereas IL-17 levels were elevated after day 3, and this induction of IL-17 was dependent on IL-23. These data, together with analysis of mice genetically disrupted for IL-17 and IL-23, suggest that IL-23 functions in the immediate stage of I/R brain injury, whereas IL-17 has an important role in the delayed phase of I/R injury during which apoptotic neuronal death occurs in the penumbra. Intracellular cytokine staining revealed that gammadeltaT lymphocytes, but not CD4(+) helper T cells, were a major source of IL-17. Moreover, depletion of gammadeltaT lymphocytes ameliorated the I/R injury. We propose that T lymphocytes, including gammadeltaT lymphocytes, could be a therapeutic target for mitigating the inflammatory events that amplify the initial damage in cerebral ischemia.