Summary The few days before and after birth are a time of special risk for stroke in both mother and infant, probably related to activation of coagulation mechanisms in this critical period. Arterial ischaemic stroke around the time of birth is recognised in about one in 4000 full-term infants, and may present with neurological and systemic signs in the newborn. Neonatal seizures are most commonly the clinical finding that triggers assessment. In other children, perinatal stroke is recognised only retrospectively, with emerging hemiparesis or seizures after the early months of life. Risk factors for perinatal stroke include hereditary or acquired thrombophilias and environmental factors. Perinatal stroke underlies an important share of congenital hemiplegic cerebral palsy, and probably some spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and seizure disorders. There is much to be learned about the natural history of perinatal stroke, and there are as yet no evidence-based strategies for prevention or treatment.