We sought to assess whether the volume of the ischemic penumbra can be estimated more accurately by altering the threshold selected for defining perfusion-weighting imaging (PWI) lesions. DEFUSE is a multicenter study in which consecutive acute stroke patients were treated with intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator 3 to 6 hours after stroke onset. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained before, 3 to 6 hours after, and 30 days after treatment. Baseline and posttreatment PWI volumes were defined according to increasing Tmax delay thresholds (>2, >4, >6, and >8 seconds). Penumbra salvage was defined as the difference between the baseline PWI lesion and the final infarct volume (30-day fluid-attenuated inversion recovery sequence). We hypothesized that the optimal PWI threshold would provide the strongest correlations between penumbra salvage volumes and various clinical and imaging-based outcomes. Thirty-three patients met the inclusion criteria. The correlation between infarct growth and penumbra salvage volume was significantly better for PWI lesions defined by Tmax >6 seconds versus Tmax >2 seconds, as was the difference in median penumbra salvage volume in patients with a favorable versus an unfavorable clinical response. Among patients who did not experience early reperfusion, the Tmax >4 seconds threshold provided a more accurate prediction of final infarct volume than the >2 seconds threshold. Defining PWI lesions based on a stricter Tmax threshold than the standard >2 seconds delay appears to provide more a reliable estimate of the volume of the ischemic penumbra in stroke patients imaged between 3 and 6 hours after symptom onset. A threshold between 4 and 6 seconds appears optimal for early identification of critically hypoperfused tissue.