We evaluated survival following stroke for patients from a five-county area of rural North Carolina enrolled in either of two community hospital-based stroke survey programs. In this area, the first program enrolled 843 stroke patients between 1970 and 1973 and the second program enrolled 786 stroke patients between 1979 and 1980. One-year survival increased from 49% in the first program to 62% in the second for all stroke patients, from 54% to 68% for patients with cerebral infarction, and from 18% to 55% for patients with cerebral hemorrhage. While other reports have attributed declining stroke mortality to a decline in the incidence of stroke, our study suggests that increased survival after stroke may account for a large portion of the decrease in stroke mortality. © 1989 American Heart Association, Inc.