We report differential patterns of swallowing in 40 patients with their first ischemic middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke and compare these to 20 nonstroke controls. Stroke patients were divided a priori, into groups by right or left and, post hoc, primarily anterior or posterior MCA territory lesions. The left hemisphere subgroup was differentiated from controls by longer pharyngeal transit durations and from the right hemisphere group by shorter pharyngeal response durations. The right hemisphere subgroup was characterized by longer pharyngeal stage durations and higher incidences of laryngeal penetration and aspiration of liquid. Anterior lesion subjects demonstrated significantly longer swallowing durations on most variables compared to both normal and posterior lesion subjects. Changes in the consistency of foods and other modifications for safe nutrition should be considered during the first month of recovery for unilateral stroke patients with swallowing difficulty.