Stroke data bank can afford important information regarding risk factors, pathogenesis, prognosis, etc. By means of hospital-based stroke registry, we investigated the risk factors and case-fatality rates in different types of stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients at the National Taiwan University Hospital in 1995. After excluding ineligible patients, 995 patients aged 1-98 years (575 men and 420 women) were recruited. Men predominated in all age groups for stroke and TIA in general except for cerebral hemorrhage (CH) in patients aged < 35 years and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in patients aged > or = 45 years. Of these, 676 (67.9%), 41 (4.1%), 228 (22.9%) and 50 (5%) patients were classified in the categories of cerebral infarction (CI), TIA, CH and SAH, respectively. The CI/CH ratio was 2.96. Hypertension remained one of the most important risk factors for CI, CH and TIA patients. Severe extracranial carotid artery stenosis (> or = 50%) was found in 12% of the CI patients and 27% of the TIA patients, but not found in the CH and SAH patients. Of these patients, the 30-day case-fatality rate was 10.9%, highest in SAH (30%), followed by CH (24.1%) and CI (5.6%). There were 41 in-hospital stroke patients who had significantly higher case-fatality rates than the other stroke patients (P<0.001 for all stroke, CI and CH patients by chi2 test). As compared to the previous stroke registries in Taiwan, there is a secular trend of increasing CI/CH ratios. These findings in Taiwan were compared with those in other populations, including other Asian, Caucasian and black populations. The CI/CH ratios in Asian populations, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean, were much lower than those in Caucasian and black populations. Dietary, environmental and genetic factors probably play important roles in these differences.