A group of 59 patients with stroke due to acute vertebrobasilar or carotid territory occlusion have been treated by local intra-arterial fibrinolysis (LIF). A high recanalisation rate was accomplished with either urokinase or recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (r-TPA). However, with either substance, even if a high dose was used, recanalisation was a time-consuming process which usually took 120 min. A reasonable explanation for the lack of effectiveness of these plasminogen-activating substances might be a deficit of substrate, e.g. plasminogen, in aged thrombus. LIF was capable of improving clinical outcome in acute vertebrobasilar artery occlusion, reducing mortality to 50% in patients fulfilling inclusion criteria. In the carotid territory multiple occlusions had a poor prognosis while good clinical results could be achieved in occlusions of the proximal middle cerebral artery or single branches.