We prospectively evaluated gait recovery in 197 elderly subjects after hemiplegic stroke by measuring serial walking speed. Fifty-seven per cent of subjects (113/197) could not walk without human assistance on day 7 post-stroke. About 40% of this group achieved gait independence at months 1, 2, 3, and 4 post-stroke. In contrast, about 95% of those walking on day 7 maintained gait independence 1, 2, 3, and 4 months post-stroke. Using multiple logistic regression, the best predictors of independent ambulation among the 113 subjects not walking on day 7 were age, line bisection error, and leg power.