Nimodipine is a 1,4-dihydropyridine derivative that shows a preferential cerebrovascular activity in experimental animals. Clinical data suggest that nimodipine has a beneficial effect on the neurologic outcome of patients suffering an acute ischemic stroke. Our double-blind placebo-controlled multicenter trial was designed to assess the effects of oral nimodipine on the mortality rate and neurologic outcome of patients with an acute ischemic stroke. One hundred sixty-four patients were randomly allocated to receive either nimodipine tablets (30 mg q.i.d.) or identical placebo tablets for 28 days. Treatment was always started < 48 hours after the acute event. The Mathew Scale, slightly modified by Gelmers et al, was used for neurologic assessment. Mortality rate and neurologic outcome after 28 days were used as evaluation criteria. We considered 123 patients to be valid for the analysis of efficacy. Mortality rates did not differ significantly between groups. Neurologic outcome after 28 days of therapy did not differ between groups. However, when only those patients most likely to benefit from any intervention (Mathew Scale sum score of < 65 at baseline) were analyzed separately in post hoc-defined subgroups, the nimodipine-treated subgroup showed a significantly better neurologic outcome. This result suggests that some patients with acute ischemic stroke will benefit from treatment with nimodipine tablets.