The carbohydrate-binding molecule galectin-3 has garnered significant attention recently as a biomarker for various conditions ranging from cardiac disease to obesity. Although there have been several recent studies investigating its role in stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases, awareness of this emerging biomarker in the wider neurology community is limited. We performed a systematic search in PubMed, Embase, Scopus, CINAHL, Clinicaltrials.gov and the Cochrane library in November and December 2016 for articles related to galectin-3 and cerebrovascular disease. We included both human and pre-clinical studies in order to provide a comprehensive view of the state of the literature on this topic. The majority of the relevant literature focuses on stroke, cerebral ischemia and atherosclerosis, but some recent attention has also been devoted to intracranial and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Higher blood levels of galectin-3 correlate with worse outcomes in atherosclerotic disease as well as in intracranial and subarachnoid hemorrhage in human studies. However, experimental evidence supporting the role of galectin-3 in these phenotypes is not as robust. It is likely that the role of galectin-3 in the inflammatory cascade within the central nervous system following injury is responsible for many of its effects, but its varied physiological functions and multiple sites of expression mean that it may have different effects depending on the nature of the disease condition and the time since injury. In summary, experimental and human research raises the possibility that galectin-3, which is closely linked to the inflammatory cascade, could be of value as a prognostic marker and therapeutic target in cerebrovascular disease.