Sixty surviving patients had their walking ability and speed assessed regularly over the first 3 months after an acute stroke. Sixty-four matched controls were studied to allow categorisation of speed as 'slow' or 'normal'. Fourteen patients never had any significant loss of walking speed; fifteen patients never recovered the ability to walk and one patient remained dependent upon verbal support. Of the 30 showing significant recovery, only 10 regained normal speed, and 8 remained dependent upon a physical aid at 3 months. Plotting individual recovery curves of walking speed over time showed the wide range of change which may be expected. It is argued that timing of gait over 10 metres is a valid reliable measure that is currently underused.