Serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed to investigate the temporal and spatial relationship between the biphasic nature of blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening and, in parallel, edema formation after ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury in rats. T(2)-weighted imaging combined with T(2)-relaxometry, mainly for edema assessment, was performed at 1 h after ischemia, after reperfusion, and at 4, 24 and 48 h after reperfusion. T(1)-weighted imaging was performed before and after gadolinium contrast at the last three time points to assess BBB integrity. The biphasic course of BBB opening with a significant reduction in BBB permeability at 24 h after reperfusion, associated with a progressive expansion of leaky BBB volume, was accompanied by a peak ipsilateral edema formation. In addition, at 4 h after reperfusion, edema formation could also be detected at the contralateral striatum as determined by the elevated T(2)-values that persisted to varying degrees, indicative of widespread effects of I/R injury. The observations of this study may indicate a dynamic temporal shift in the mechanisms responsible for biphasic BBB permeability changes, with complex relations to edema formation. Stroke therapy aimed at vasogenic edema and drug delivery for neuroprotection may also be guided according to the functional status of the BBB, and these findings have to be confirmed in human stroke.