The purpose of the present work was designed to explore protective cerebrovascular effects of hydroxysafflor yellow A (HSYA), and provide preclinical efficacy and mechanism data for its possible application in patients with cerebral ischemia. The protective effect of HSYA on ischemic stroke was evaluated by infarct sizes and neurological scores in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats with middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). Cerebrovascular permeability was detected by Evans blue dye leakage in MCAO rats. Cerebral blood flow, as well as blood pressure and heart rate were monitored using flow probes in Beagle dogs. Basilar artery tension isolated from Beagle dogs was evaluated with an MPA 2000 data-acquisition system. Coagulation-related function was also judged, including rabbit platelet aggregation by adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and platelet-aggregating factor (PAF), rabbit blood viscosity by a blood viscometer, and thrombus formation by rat arterial-venous shunts. Results showed that HSYA treatment significantly decreased the infarct sizes, neurological scores and cerebrovascular permeability in rats with MCAO. However, cerebral blood flow, blood pressure and heart rate were not affected by HSYA. In vitro, HSYA had a strong effect on cerebrovascular vasodilatation, and significantly decreased platelet aggregation, blood viscosity, and thrombogenesis. Besides well-known anti-coagulation effects, HSYA protects against ischemic stroke by dilating cerebral vessels and improving cerebrovascular permeability.