In this review, we consider the literature on sensitive periods for language acquisition from the perspective of the stroke recovery literature treated in this Special Issue. Conceptually, the two areas of study are linked in a number of ways. For example, the fact that learning itself can set the stage for future failures to learn (in second language learning) or to remediate (as described in constraint therapy) is an important insight in both areas, as is the increasing awareness that limits on learning can be overcome by creating the appropriate environmental context. Similar practical issues, such as distinguishing native-like language acquisition or recovery of function from compensatory mechanisms, arise in both areas as well. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 54:332-342, 2012.