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Diabetes increases the risk of hemorrhagic transformation (HT) after a cerebral ischemic event, a major factor limiting the use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) for stroke patients. We previously showed that increased HT is associated with poorer recovery in diabetes. In the current study, we hypothesized that excess iron contributes to poor recovery and that iron chelation with deferoxamine (DFX) will improve the neurological recovery after embolic stroke in diabetes. Diabetes was induced with high fat diet and low dose streptozotocin injection (30 mg/kg) in male Wistar rats. Both control and diabetes animals were subjected to embolic stroke with middle cerebral artery occlusion and sacrificed 2 weeks after the surgery. DFX (100 mg/kg) or vehicle was given every 12 h for 7 days after stroke. The composite score (Bederson’s score and beam walk), adhesive removal (ART) and novel object recognition (NOR) were assessed at day 1, 3, 7 and 14 after the surgery. DFX reduced mortality in diabetes. Diabetic animals displayed poor outcomes. By Day 14, DFX reduced motor and cognitive deficits in diabetes but not in controls. These results suggest that iron chelation therapy may improve outcomes after ischemic stroke in this high risk population.