We examined the effects of age on stroke progression and outcome in order to explore the association between blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption, neuronal damage, and functional recovery. Using middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), young (3 months) and aged (18 months) rats were assessed for BBB disruption at 20min post-MCAO, and 24h post-MCAO with tissue plasminogen activator induced reperfusion at 120min. Results showed that BBB disruptions in aged rats occurred early and increased nearly two-fold at both the 20min and 24h time points when compared to young animals. Neuronal damage in aged rats was increased two-fold as compared to young rats at 24h, while no neuronal damage was observed at 20min. Young and aged rats exhibited neurological deficits when compared to sham-controls out to 14 days following MCAO and reperfusion; however, aged rats exhibited more severe onset of deficits and prolonged recovery. Results indicate that aged rats suffer larger infarctions, reduced functional recovery and increased BBB disruption preceding observable neuronal injury.