We measured ischemic brain changes with diffusion and perfusion MRI in 42 ischemic stroke patients before and 2 hours (range approximately 1.5 to 4.5 hours) after standard intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) therapy. The median time from stroke onset to tPA was 131 minutes. Clinical and MRI variables (change in perfusion and/or diffusion weighted lesion volume) were compared between those with excellent outcome defined as 3-month modified Rankin score (mRS) of 0 to I and those with incomplete recovery (mRS > 1). In multivariate logististic regression analysis, the most powerful independent predictor for excellent outcome was improved brain perfusion: hypoperfusion volume on mean transit time (MTT) map decrease >30% from baseline to 2-hour post tPA scan (p = 0.009; odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 20.7 [2.1-203.9]). Except for age <70 years, no other baseline clinical or imaging variable was an independent predictor of outcome. We propose MTT lesion volume decrease more than 30% 2 hours after tPA as an early marker of long-term clinical benefit of thrombolytic therapy.