Cerebral edema formation stems from disruption of blood brain barrier (BBB) integrity and occurs after injury to the CNS. Due to the restrictive skull, relatively small increases in brain volume can translate into impaired tissue perfusion and brain herniation. In excess, cerebral edema can be gravely harmful. Astrocytes are key participants in cerebral edema by virtue of their relationship with the cerebral vasculature, their unique compliment of solute and water transport proteins, and their general role in brain volume homeostasis. Following the discovery of aquaporins, passive conduits of water flow, aquaporin 4 (AQP4) was identified as the predominant astrocyte water channel. Normally, AQP4 is highly enriched at perivascular endfeet, the outermost layer of the BBB, whereas after injury, AQP4 expression disseminates to the entire astrocytic plasmalemma, a phenomenon termed dysregulation. Arguably, the most important role of AQP4 is to rapidly neutralize osmotic gradients generated by ionic transporters. In pathological conditions, AQP4 is believed to be intimately involved in the formation and clearance of cerebral edema. In this review, we discuss aquaporin function and localization in the BBB during health and injury, and we examine post-injury ionic events that modulate AQP4-dependent edema formation.