Aspirin is widely used for the prevention of recurrent stroke in patients with transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and ischaemic stroke of arterial origin, because it is effective and inexpensive. Clopidogrel and the combination of aspirin and extended-release dipyridamole are more effective than aspirin, but are also much more expensive. No other antithrombotic regimens provide significant advantages over aspirin, although cilostazol and the novel platelet protease activated receptor-1 antagonist, SCH 530348, are currently being evaluated. For patients with TIA and ischaemic stroke of cardiac origin due to atrial fibrillation, vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) are highly effective in preventing recurrent ischaemic stroke but have important limitations and are thus underused. Antiplatelet therapy is much less effective than VKAs. The direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran etexilate, has shown efficacy over warfarin in a recent trial. Other new anticoagulants, including the oral factor Xa inhibitors, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban, the parenteral factor Xa inhibitor, idrabiotaparinux, and the novel VKA, tecarfarin, are currently being assessed.