The plasminogen-activating enzyme system has been exploited and harnessed for therapeutic thrombolysis for nearly three decades. Tissue-type plasminogen activator is still the only thrombolytic agent approved for patients with ischemic stroke. While tissue-type plasminogen activator-induced thrombolysis is proven to be of clear benefit in these patients if administered within 4A?5h poststroke onset, it is surprisingly underused in clinics despite international guidelines and improved acute stroke systems, a situation that requires urgent attention. While tissue-type plasminogen activator has also been shown to have unforeseen roles in the brain that have presented new challenges, tissue-type plasminogen activator and related fibrinolytic agents are currently being assessed over extended time frames. This review will focus on the therapeutic experience and controversies of tissue-type plasminogen activator. Furthermore, we will also provide an overview of recent and current trials assessing tissue-type plasminogen activator and related thrombolytic agents as well as novel approaches for the treatment of ischemic stroke. A? 2012 World Stroke Organization.