Stroke represents an unresolved challenge for both developed and developing countries and has a huge socio-economic impact. Although considerable effort has been made to limit stroke incidence and improve outcome, strategies aimed at protecting injured neurons in the brain have all failed. This failure is likely to be due to both the incompleteness of modelling the disease and its causes in experimental research, and also the lack of understanding of how systemic mechanisms lead to an acute cerebrovascular event or contribute to outcome. Inflammation has been implicated in all forms of brain injury and it is now clear that immune mechanisms profoundly influence (and are responsible for the development of) risk and causation of stroke, and the outcome following the onset of cerebral ischemia. Until very recently, systemic inflammatory mechanisms, with respect to common comorbidities in stroke, have largely been ignored in experimental studies. The main aim is therefore to understand interactions between the immune system and brain injury in order to develop novel therapeutic approaches. Recent data from clinical and experimental research clearly show that systemic inflammatory diseases -such as atherosclerosis, obesity, diabetes or infection - similar to stress and advanced age, are associated with dysregulated immune responses which can profoundly contribute to cerebrovascular inflammation and injury in the central nervous system. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the field of inflammation and stroke, focusing on the challenges of translation between pre-clinical and clinical studies, and potential anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory therapeutic approaches.