Stroke is a life-threatening event that has a devastating impact on young adults and their families. The author conducted a systematic review of the qualitative literature to explore the experience of stroke from the perspective of young adults. Four primary research 'papers' were analyzed using the Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument; 60 findings were extracted from the papers and merged into 13 categories, from which three synthesized findings were developed - disorientation, disrupted sense of self, and roles and relationships. Many of the effects of stroke are 'invisible' but have significant impact on social participation, including the ability to return to work and to enjoy an active social life. Young adults feel the same and yet different following stroke, which may have a profound effect on relationships. Effective communication between patients, families and health professionals is crucial to all aspects of recovery.