Patients delay in responding to stroke as an emergency in part because they have deficient information about the disease and treatment. Healthcare providers may also have a lack of information about stroke assessment and management, which could attribute to delays in patient care. In order to provide early, rapid stroke treatment in eligible persons, the public and the healthcare community must be informed. Information on stroke risk, symptoms and treatment should be provided to those likely to experience stroke, the general public and the emergency and medical communities who may witness and intervene when stroke occurs. Programs developed at the eight centers of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) rt-PA stroke trial provide a sampling of approaches that increase awareness in these groups. Lessons learned include: 1. Program planning should start with a community needs assessment. 2. A variety of strategies can be applied to meet the community needs and resources. 3. Educational principles and models should be utilized in planning effective programs. 4. The message must be simple: "Stroke is an emergency. Time is brain".