This study was designed to determine the role of demographic, medical and cognitive factors in the results of rehabilitation in first stroke patients. In a prospective study on 273 consecutive patients admitted to a rehabilitation hospital for sequelae of first stroke, we used multiple regressions to assess the relationship between 11 independent variables and a battery of outcome measures: mortality, length of hospital stay, Barthel Index (BI) and Rivermead Mobility Index (RMI) scores at discharge and their effectiveness. Severity of stroke at admission and hemineglect were the strongest prognostic factors. In a logistic model, cognitive impairment was a significant independent predictor (OR = 4.10) also after adjusting for age and severity of stroke. Patients with hemineglect had a significantly higher relative risk of poor autonomy [RR = 7.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) 4.04-13.18] and impaired mobility (RR = 9.25, CI 4.63-18.45). Global aphasic patients had similar risks for both autonomy (RR = 4.51, CI 2.74-7.41) and mobility (RR = 4.71, CI 2.79-7.97). This study underlines the crucial role of cognitive disorders as predictors of poor functional outcome in stroke survivors and confirms the need for early neuropsychological screening.