The effectiveness of acupuncture in acute stroke remains largely untested and unproved. A randomized, controlled trial was carried out to study the feasibility of acupuncture in combination with conventional supportive treatment for acute stroke patients. A total of 30 patients, aged 46-74, with the onset of symptoms within 36 h were enrolled into the study after appropriate screening. All patients gave informed consent. Basing on the same supportive treatment, patients were randomly assigned to a treatment with or without acupuncture. The procedure and acupoint selection were discussed and decided through several meetings of a group of senior acupuncture doctors in Taiwan. Acupuncture was applied 3 times/ week for 4 weeks. During the study period, there were no problems in conducting this trial in terms of patient availability and acceptance, and physician cooperation. A significantly better neurologic outcome was observed in the acupuncture group on day 28 and day 90. The improvement in neurologic status was greatest in patients with a poor neurologic score at baseline. There were no important side effects except for one episode of dizziness related to acupuncture treatment. The data and results of this study will be used as a guideline for planning a full-scale clinical trial, e.g. sample size calculation, method of randomization with stratification of prognostic factors, choosing acupuncture points and technique of acupuncture.