The risk of recurrent stroke, myocardial infarction and epilepsy was analyzed in a population-based cohort of 409 stroke patients (mean age 72 years) observed for 3.5-7 years. As assessed by the life table technique, the proportion of survivors in the cohort was 69 +/- 5% at 1 year and 38 +/- 7% at 5 years. During the first year, the risk for recurrent stroke was 14 +/- 4%, and the accumulated risk for stroke recurrence at 5 years was 37 +/- 10%. The probability for myocardial infarction was estimated to be 7 +/- 3% at 1 year and 19 +/- 8% at 5 years. The risk of recurrent stroke was enhanced in patients of high age and with a history of cardiac failure (p less than 0.05), whereas the risk of myocardial infarction was associated with high age, angina pectoris and diabetes mellitus (p less than 0.05). The risk of epilepsy was 3 +/- 2% at 1 year and 5 +/- 4% at 5 years. The considerable risk of recurrent stroke, myocardial infarction and epilepsy adds to the sequelae of the initial cerebrovascular accident.