Pyrexia soon after stroke is associated with severe stroke and poor functional outcome. Few studies have assessed brain temperature after stroke in patients, so little is known of its associations with body temperature, stroke severity, or outcome. We measured temperatures in ischemic and normal-appearing brain using H-1-magnetic resonance spectroscopy and its correlations with body (tympanic) temperature measured four-hourly, infarct growth by 5 days, early neurologic (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale, NIHSS) and late functional outcome (death or dependency). Among 40 patients (mean age 73 years, median NIHSS 7, imaged at median 17 hours), temperature in ischemic brain was higher than in normal-appearing brain on admission (38.6 degrees C-core, 37.9 degrees C-contralateral hemisphere, P = 0.03) but both were equally elevated by 5 days; both were higher than tympanic temperature. Ischemic lesion temperature was not associated with NIHSS or 3-month functional outcome; in contrast, higher contralateral normal-appearing brain temperature was associated with worse NIHSS, infarct expansion and poor functional outcome, similar to associations for tympanic temperature. We conclude that brain temperature is higher than body temperature; that elevated temperature in ischemic brain reflects a local tissue response to ischemia, whereas pyrexia reflects the systemic response to stroke, occurs later, and is associated with adverse outcomes.