In a prospective study of 86 patients with acute stroke, blood glucose and HbA1 were estimated within 72 h of onset. The prevalence of previously diagnosed diabetes mellitus was 8% whereas 28% could be assumed to have had unrecognized hyperglycaemia preceeding the acute event as identified by a stable HbA1 raised more than two SD above the mean reference value. Complete functional recovery of the limbs within 4 weeks of the stroke was confined to those patients with a normal admission blood glucose. None of the patients with a raised admission blood glucose regained full functional recovery within 4 weeks. Cumulative mortality at 4 weeks was significantly raised in patients with an elevated blood glucose value irrespective of their HbA1 values (p less than 0.05). The prevalence of unrecognized hyperglycaemia as a risk factor for acute stroke is greater than previously reported in the UK and admission blood glucose concentration is of greatest importance in predicting early mortality and morbidity.