Survivors of stroke and transient ischaemic attacks are at risk of a recurrent stroke, which is often more severe and disabling than the index event. Optimum secondary prevention of recurrent stroke needs rapid diagnosis and treatment and prompt identification of the underlying cardiovascular cause. Effective treatments include organised acute assessment and intervention with antithrombotic therapy, carotid revascularisation, and control of causal risk factors, as appropriate. However, effective treatments are not implemented optimally in clinical practice. Recurrent strokes continue to account for 25-30% of all strokes and represent unsuccessful secondary prevention. Immediate and sustained implementation of effective and appropriate secondary prevention strategies in patients with first-ever stroke or transient ischaemic attack has the potential to reduce the burden of stroke by up to a quarter. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.