Angiotensin type 1 receptor blockers (ARBs) have been shown to be neuroprotective and neurorestorative in experimental stroke. The mechanisms proposed include anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic effects, as well as stimulation of endogenous trophic factors leading to angiogenesis and neuroplasticity. We aimed to investigate the involvement of the neurotrophin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), in ARB-mediated functional recovery after stroke. To achieve this aim, Wistar rats received bilateral intracerebroventricular (ICV) injections of short hairpin RNA (shRNA) lentiviral particles or non-targeting control (NTC) vector, to knock down BDNF in both hemispheres. After 14 days, rats were subjected to 90-minute middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and received the ARB, candesartan, 1 mg/kg, or saline IV at reperfusion (one dose), then followed for another 14 days using a battery of behavioral tests. BDNF protein expression was successfully reduced by about 70% in both hemispheres at 14 days after bilateral shRNA lentiviral particles injection. The NTC group that received candesartan showed better functional outcome as well as increased vascular density and synaptogenesis as compared to saline treatment. BDNF knockdown abrogated the beneficial effects of candesartan on neurobehavioral outcome, vascular density and synaptogenesis. In conclusion, BDNF is directly involved in candesartan-mediated functional recovery, angiogenesis and synaptogenesis.