Immunity and inflammation are key elements of the pathobiology of stroke, a devastating illness second only to cardiac ischemia as a cause of death worldwide. While the immune system participates in the brain damage produced by ischemia, the damaged brain, in turn, exerts a powerful immunosuppressive effect that promotes fatal intercurrent infections and threatens the survival of stroke patients. Inflammatory signaling is instrumental in all stages of the ischemic cascade, from the early damaging events triggered by arterial occlusion, to the late regenerative processes underlying post-ischemic tissue repair. Recent developments have revealed that stroke, like multiple sclerosis, engages both innate and adaptive immunity. But, unlike multiple sclerosis, adaptive immunity triggered by newly exposed brain antigens does not have an impact on the acute phase of the damage. Nevertheless, modulation of adaptive immunity exerts a remarkable protective effect on the ischemic brain and offers the prospect of new stroke therapies. However, immunomodulation is not devoid of deleterious side effects, and gaining a better understanding of the reciprocal interaction between the immune system and the ischemic brain is essential to harness the full therapeutic potential of the immunology of stroke.