Time course and degree of the recovery of walking function after stroke and the influence of initial lower extremity (LE) paresis were studied prospectively in a community-based population of 804 consecutive acute stroke patients. Walking function and degree of LE paresis were assessed weekly using the Barthel index and the Scandinavian Neurological Stroke scale, respectively. Initially, 51% had no walking function, 12% could walk with assistance, and 37% had independent walking function. At the end of rehabilitation, 21% had died, 18% had no walking function, 11% could walk with assistance, and 50% had independent walking function. Recovery of walking function occurs in 95% of the patients within the first 11 weeks after stroke. The time and the degree of recovery are related to both the degree of initial impairment of walking function and to the severity of LE paresis, p < .0001. A valid prognosis of walking function in patients with initially no/mild/moderate leg paresis can be made in 3 weeks, and further recovery should not be expected after 9 weeks. A valid prognosis of walking function in patients with initially severe leg paresis or paralysis can be made in 6 weeks, and further improvement of walking function should not be expected later than 11 weeks after stroke.