Abstract The middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in mice induces a focal cerebral ischaemia at the level of the tempo-parietal cortex. Histological staining and immunohistochemical markers were used to characterize the temporal progression of the cerebral infarct: both qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed at different days after the MCAO. At 3 days after MCAO, an extensive necrosis of the cerebral parenchyma was accompanied by extravasation and by massive oedema. After 7 days, GFAP marker showed a gliotic reaction with alteration of the astrocytes membrane permeability (S100 marker). Positivity for acid phosphatase staining indicated the presence of macrophages. At Day 14 and 21 following MCAO, the histological profile was essentially similar. Interestingly, at Day 7, 14 and 21, a previously unreported gliosis was observed in the subthalamic area. Quantitative analysis showed a significantly larger infarct volume at Day 3 (7.88 ± 1.95 mm 3 ± S.E.M.) compared to Day 7 (4.28 ± 0.47 mm 3 ± S.E.M.). At Day 14 and Day 21 the infarct volumes were further decreased to 2.00 ± 0.52 and 1.43 ± 0.39 mm 3 ± S.E.M., respectively. These results suggest that it is important to consider the time of evaluation of cerebral ischaemia-induced cerebral infarct, especially in studies which aim to evaluate the neuroprotective effect of putative therapeutic agents.