Background Early results of the Stenting and Aggressive Medical Management for Preventing Recurrent stroke in Intracranial Stenosis trial showed that, by 30 days, 33 (14·7%) of 224 patients in the stenting group and 13 (5·8%) of 227 patients in the medical group had died or had a stroke (percentages are product limit estimates), but provided insufficient data to establish whether stenting offered any longer-term benefit. Here we report the long-term outcome of patients in this trial. Methods We randomly assigned (1:1, stratified by centre with randomly permuted block sizes) 451 patients with recent transient ischaemic attack or stroke related to 70-99% stenosis of a major intracranial artery to aggressive medical management (antiplatelet therapy, intensive management of vascular risk factors, and a lifestyle-modification programme) or aggressive medical management plus stenting with the Wingspan stent. The primary endpoint was any of the following: stroke or death within 30 days after enrolment, ischaemic stroke in the territory of the qualifying artery beyond 30 days of enrolment, or stroke or death within 30 days after a revascularisation procedure of the qualifying lesion during follow-up. Primary endpoint analysis of between-group differences with log-rank test was by intention to treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT 00576693. Findings During a median follow-up of 32·4 months, 34 (15%) of 227 patients in the medical group and 52 (23%) of 224 patients in the stenting group had a primary endpoint event. The cumulative probability of the primary endpoints was smaller in the medical group versus the percutaneous transluminal angioplasty and stenting (PTAS) group (p=0·0252). Beyond 30 days, 21 (10%) of 210 patients in the medical group and 19 (10%) of 191 patients in the stenting group had a primary endpoint. The absolute differences in the primary endpoint rates between the two groups were 7·1% at year 1 (95% CI 0·2 to 13·8%; p=0·0428), 6·5% at year 2 (-0·5 to 13·5%; p=0·07) and 9·0% at year 3 (1·5 to 16·5%; p=0·0193). The occurrence of the following adverse events was higher in the PTAS group than in the medical group: any stroke (59 [26%] of 224 patients vs 42 [19%] of 227 patients; p=0·0468) and major haemorrhage (29 [13%] of 224 patients vs 10 [4%] of 227 patients; p=0·0009). Interpretation The early benefit of aggressive medical management over stenting with the Wingspan stent for highrisk patients with intracranial stenosis persists over extended follow-up. Our findings lend support to the use of aggressive medical management rather than PTAS with the Wingspan system in high-risk patients with atherosclerotic intracranial arterial stenosis. Funding National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and others.