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Before tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) was licensed for use in Canada, in February 1999, the Calgary Regional Stroke Program spearheaded the development and organization of local resources to use thrombolytic therapy in patients who had experienced acute ischemic stroke. In 1996 special permission was obtained from the Calgary Regional Health Authority to use intravenously administered tPA for acute ischemic stroke, and ethical and scientific review boards approved the protocols. After 3 years our efforts have resulted in improved patient outcomes, shorter times from symptom onset to treatment and acceptable adverse event rates. Areas for continued improvement include the door-to-needle time and broader education of the public about the symptoms of acute ischemic stroke.