OBJECTIVE Stroke is a major public health problem in developing countries. However, few studies have quantified the functional recovery of stroke patients in sub-Saharan Africa. This study examined the functional recovery of stroke patients in the Republic of Benin. METHODS A total of 68 patients with acute stroke were recruited from hospitals and health centres in Benin. Patients were evaluated at enrolment and 1, 3 and 6 months post-stroke. The ACTIVLIM-Stroke scale, Barthel Index, and modified Rankin Scale were used to assess activity limitations, functional autonomy, and overall level of disability, respectively. RESULTS Over the 6-month follow-up period, 18 patients died and 9 dropped out. Overall, the 3 measures highlighted progressive and significant functional recovery during the first 6 months. At enrolment, the mean score on ACTIVLIM-Stroke was 16% (standard deviation (SD) 9), indicating that patients were almost totally dependent and unable to perform most activities of daily living. At 6 months, the mean score for activity limitation reached 67% (SD 15) and most patients were able to perform some basic tasks easily. Patients had difficulty with tasks requiring walking and remained unable to perform certain activities requiring manual dexterity. CONCLUSION The study sample showed significant functional recovery (~50%) during the first 6 months post-stroke. We recommend the integration of group-based brisk walking into a cost-effective rehabilitation programme as a suitable way to increase functional recovery of chronic stroke patients in sub-Saharan Africa after hospital discharge.