Nicardipine is a second generation dihydropyridine-type Ca2+ antagonist with high vascular selectivity and strong cerebral and coronary vasodilatory activity. The compound is used in the treatment of hypertension, primarily in the elderly. In this review the main evidence of the cerebrovascular activity of nicardipine in preclinical studies using in vitro and in vivo models is detailed. A particular physico-chemical property of nicardipine is the almost complete protonation in acid environment. This allows its accumulation in ischemic brain regions and makes it a candidate for the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders characterised by impaired brain perfusion. The main clinical data on the use of nicardipine in cerebral ischemia and related disorders, subarachnoid haemorrhage and stroke, are also reviewed. These studies included 5940 patients affected by chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency (cerebral ischemia, cerebral atherosclerosis mainly associated with hypertension, transient ischemic attacks, sequelae of cerebral infarction, thrombosis or embolia, hypertensive encephalopathy), 1540 patients affected by sequelae of subarachnoid haemorrhage and 206 patients affected by stroke. Both preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that nicardipine is a safe Ca2+ antagonist with powerful cerebrovascular activity. This suggests its possible use in cerebrovascular disorders in which blockade of Ca2+ channels of the L-type and/or selective cerebral vasodilatation is desirable. Further studies are necessary to establish if modulation of neuronal Ca2+ channels of the L-type by nicardipine may have a neuroprotective effect independent by the cerebrovascular activity of the compound.