A random telephone survey on knowledge of stroke was conducted in 1, 238 Hong Kong Chinese. Most respondents realized that effective treatment was available, that stroke was preventable and that it could be fatal or disabling. Sudden unilateral limb weakness, sudden speech and language disturbances, and sudden vertigo and clumsiness were better recognized than other warning symptoms of stroke. A slightly better recognition of symptoms of stroke was seen in those with a belief of knowing about stroke, providing a correct description of stroke, those with a positive household history of stroke and those with a better knowledge of potential risk factors. Most respondents would choose desirable actions if stroke was suspected in their family members or themselves. Friends and relatives, newspapers and magazines, and mass media provided the major sources of their knowledge.