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Examined the role of circadian preference on facial emotion recognition among rehabilitation inpatients.47 patients with stroke and 24 patients with orthopedic diagnoses were screened for circadian preference and assessed at preferred and nonpreferred times of day on a computerized task of facial emotion recognition.Disproportionate effects of time of day, relative to individual circadian preference, were found among persons with stroke-related cognitive impairment, compared with orthopedic patients, on facial emotion recognition. These differences were independent of differences in visual perception, subjective mood, or sleepiness.The circadian preference effect can be understood in terms of cognitive reserve. Among persons with acquired brain injury, the ability to access cognitive reserve appears to be affected by environmental variables (e.g., time of day), suggesting an additional component to existing models of reserve. Limited ability to recognize facial emotional expression in this population may present behavioral, occupational, and interpersonal challenges to community reintegration poststroke. Understanding this time-of-day effect adds to existing knowledge of factors affecting successful postacute outcomes in stroke rehabilitation.