Antithrombotic medication is a cornerstone of acute ischemic stroke treatment and secondary prevention. The efficacy of thrombolysis with alteplase in acute stroke has been demonstrated in several clinical trials. This safe and costeffective therapy has transformed the practice of stroke care and has led to subsequent trials of other antithrombotic medications for treatment of ischemic stroke in the acute phase. These antithrombotics include thrombolytic, antiplatelet and anticoagulant agents. While, no other medication has yet demonstrated adequate efficacy, our current and evolving understanding of infarct expansion, ischemic penumbra, collateral circulation and the blood brain barrier is allowing testing of antithrombotic medications tailored to individual patient pathophysiology in clinical trials. This understanding accompanies developments in neuroimaging and organization of stroke care that allow for wide-spread recruitment in these trials. Alteplase remains the mainstay treatment of arterial acute ischemic stroke; however, anticoagulation is the standard therapy for cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Antithrombotic use in acute stroke, arterial and venous, has demonstrated efficacy but leaves many questions unanswered. This patient population is a fertile ground for novel research, especially as it relates to; combination antithrombotic therapy, combination of pharmacological and mechanical thrombolysis, and the transition to secondary prevention. Here we review the current antithrombotics in the acute phase of ischemic stroke highlighting the evidence-base and areas of uncertainty.