Stroke and transient ischemic attacks result from a range of mechanisms. Secondary prevention includes both conventional approaches to vascular risk-factor management (blood pressure lowering, cholesterol reduction with statins, smoking cessation and antiplatelet therapy) and more specific interventions, such as carotid endarterectomy or anticoagulation for atrial fibrillation. The relative importance of even conventional risk factors in stroke differs from coronary artery disease. Large clinical trials produce information on most aspects of stroke prevention. Stroke and transient ischemic attacks are now recognized as medical emergencies, with a high early risk of recurrence, and evidence is accumulating to support the importance of immediate institution of secondary preventative treatments. We review current literature on the secondary prevention of stroke.