We report our experience in treating 15 patients with acute thrombotic occlusion of the M1 or M2 segment of the middle cerebral artery who underwent intra-arterial thrombolytic therapy alone or in combination with percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA). The results were compared with those of 30 patients with acute embolic occlusion of the same artery. Intra-arterial thrombolysis was performed in 10 patients and thrombolysis combined with PTA in 5 in whom symptoms reappeared due to restenosis or reocclusion, or in whom recanalisation was not successfully accomplished by thrombolysis alone. In the patients with embolism recanalisation was observed in 28 (93 %) and there was no patient with reocclusion. In the patients with thrombosis recanalisation immediately after thrombolysis alone was observed in 9 of 15 (60%). Restenosis, with reappearance of symptoms, occurred in 2 of these (22 %). In the patients who also underwent PTA, angiography after 1 month did not demonstrate any restenosis or reocclusion. Thrombolysis combined with PTA for acute thrombotic stroke may provide an effective procedure for restoring patency and preventing reocclusion of the occluded artery.