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Glycogen phosphorylase is the key enzyme that breaks down glycogen to yield glucose-1-phosphate in order to restore depleted energy stores during cerebral ischaemia. We sought to determine whether plasma levels of glycogen phosphorylase BB (GPBB) isoform increased in patients with acute ischaemic stroke (AIS).We studied plasma GPBB levels within 12 hours and again at 48±24 hours of symptom onset in 172 patients with imaging-confirmed AIS and 133 stroke-free individuals. We determined the ability of plasma GPBB to discriminate between cases and controls and examined the predictive value of plasma GPBB for 90-day functional outcome, 90-day survival and acute lesion volumes on neuroimaging.The mean (SD) GPBB levels were higher in cases (46.3±38.6 ng/mL at first measurement and 38.6±36.5 ng/mL at second measurement) than in controls (4.1±7.6 ng/mL, p<0.01 for both). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for case–control discrimination based on first GPBB measurement was 0.96 (95% CI 0.93 to 0.98). The sensitivity and specificity based on optimal operating point on the ROC curve (7.0 ng/mL) were both 93%. GPBB levels increased in 90% of patients with punctate infarcts (<1.5 mL) and in all patients admitted within the first 4.5 hours of onset. There was no correlation between GPBB concentration and either clinical outcome or acute infarct volume.GPBB demonstrates robust response to acute ischaemia and high sensitivity for small infarcts. If confirmed in more diverse populations that also include stroke mimics, GPBB could find utility as a stand-alone marker for acute brain ischaemia.