Acute infarction confined to the territory of the white matter medullary arteries is a poorly characterised acute stroke subtype. 22 patients with infarction confined to this vascular territory on CT and/or MRI were identified from a series of 1,800 consecutive admissions to our stroke unit (1.2%) between August 1993 and March 1997. 19 patients had small infarcts (< 1.5 cm maximum diameter) and 3 large infarcts (> 1.5 cm). Small infarcts were associated with a history of smoking (69%), hypertension (58%), and hyperlipidaemia (37%), and less frequently with atrial fibrillation (21%). Significant (>50%) ipsilateral carotid stenosis (16%) was a less frequent finding in this group. Patients most commonly presented with weakness and/or sensory disturbance affecting mainly the upper limbs, but dysarthria, dysphasia, and ataxia were also seen. Large infarcts were infrequent in our series, but did not differ significantly from small infarcts with respect to clinical presentation or risk factor profiles (p > 0.05 for all comparisons). The majority of symptomatic patients with white matter medullary infarcts are associated with small (< 1.5 cm diameter) lesions and a risk factor profile consistent with small vessel disease. More data are required to elucidate the mechanism of larger (> 1.5 cm) infarcts. Because of the potential overlap between white matter medullary infarcts and internal watershed infarcts, suggested criteria for each are presented.