Inflammatory cells may contribute to secondary brain injury following cerebral ischemia. The C57Bl/6 mouse strain is known to exhibit a T helper 1-prone, pro-inflammatory type response to injury, whereas the FVB strain is relatively T helper 2-prone, or anti-inflammatory, in its immune response. We tested whether stroke outcome is more severe in C57Bl/6 than FVB mice. Male mice of each strain underwent sham surgery or 1 h occlusion of the middle cerebral artery followed by 23 h of reperfusion. Despite no difference in infarct size, C57Bl/6 mice displayed markedly greater functional deficits than FVB mice after stroke, as assessed by neurological scoring and hanging wire test. Total numbers of CD45(+) leukocytes tended to be larger in the brains of C57Bl/6 than FVB mice after stroke, but there were marked differences in leukocyte composition between the two mouse strains. The inflammatory response in C57Bl/6 mice primarily involved T and B lymphocytes, whereas neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages were more prominent in FVB mice. Our data are consistent with the concept that functional outcome after stroke is dependent on the immune cell composition which develops following ischemic brain injury.