Whole genome expression microarrays can be used to study gene expression in blood, which comes in part from leukocytes, immature platelets, and red blood cells. Since these cells are important in the pathogenesis of stroke, RNA provides an index of these cellular responses to stroke. Our studies in rats have shown specific gene expression changes 24 hours after ischemic stroke, hemorrhage, status epilepticus, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, global ischemia, and following brief focal ischemia that simulated transient ischemic attacks in humans. Human studies show gene expression changes following ischemic stroke. These gene profiles predict a second cohort with >90% sensitivity and specificity. Gene profiles for ischemic stroke caused by large-vessel atherosclerosis and cardioembolism have been described that predict a second cohort with >85% sensitivity and specificity. Atherosclerotic genes were associated with clotting, platelets, and monocytes, and cardioembolic genes were associated with inflammation, infection, and neutrophils. These gene profiles predicted the cause of stroke in 58% of cryptogenic patients. These studies will provide diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic markers, and will advance our understanding of stroke in humans. New techniques to measure all coding and noncoding RNAs along with alternatively spliced transcripts will markedly advance molecular studies of human stroke.