Controversies exist concerning the role of hypercholesterolaemia as a risk factor for nonhaemorrhagic stroke because intracranial arteries seem to be more resistant than coronary arteries to cholesterol-induced endothelial damage. Only very high levels of serum cholesterol seem to be a significant risk factor. It is possible that coronary heart disease may occur earlier in life than cerebrovascular atherosclerosis, and it could then become the cause of stroke. In our view, the causal relationship between very low levels of serum cholesterol and haemorrhagic stroke is unlikely, and cholesterol-lowering treatment appears to be safe. New studies should consider the particular metabolic aspects of intracranial arteries and the independent role of lipoprotein (a), apolipoprotein E phenotypes and other molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in atherosclerotic cerebrovascular disease.