An excess stroke mortality rate among African Americans is well known and should be considered a national crisis. This excess persists today despite dramatic declines in stroke mortality between 1970 and 1990 for both White and African-American men and women. Only a portion of this excess stroke mortality among African Americans can be explained by the higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in African Americans, and by the lower average socioeconomic status (SES) among African Americans. The majority of the excess burden of stroke mortality is borne by relatively young (ages 35-64) African Americans and by African Americans living in the Southeastern United States. While overall stroke mortality rates have been rapidly declining for both African Americans and Whites, the magnitude of the relative increased risk of dying from a stroke among African Americans, as compared to Whites, has remained largely unchanged. As such, efforts to reduce ethnic disparities in stroke mortality have been unsuccessful.