Expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) involves forcible blowing as a means of generating high expiratory pressure, against adjustable resistance. EMST has recently been introduced as a potential treatment for dysphagia. This study was performed to investigate the effects of EMST on the activity of suprahyoid muscles, aspiration and dietary stages in stroke patients with dysphagia. Twenty-seven stroke patients with dysphagia were randomly divided into two groups. The experimental group performed EMST with a 70% threshold value of maximal expiratory pressure, using an EMST device, 5 days a week for 4 weeks. The placebo group trained with a sham device. The EMST regime involved 5 sets of 5 breaths through the EMST device for a total of 25 breaths per day. Activity in the suprahyoid muscle group was measured using surface electromyography (sEMG). Further, the penetration–aspiration scale (PAS) was used to assess the results of the videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS). In addition, dietary stages were evaluated using the Functional Oral Intake Scale (FOIS). The experimental group exhibited improved suprahyoid muscle group activity and PAS results, when compared to the placebo group. Following intervention, statistical analysis indicated significant differences in measured suprahyoid muscle activity (P = 0·01), liquid PAS outcomes (P = 0·03) and FOIS results (P = 0·06), but not semisolid type PAS outcomes (P = 0·32), between the groups. This study confirms EMST as an effective treatment for the development of suprahyoid muscle activity in stroke patients with dysphagia. Additionally, improvements in aspiration and penetration outcomes were observed.