To explore the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor for survival and generation of striatal neurons after stroke, recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors carrying brain-derived neurotrophic factor or green fluorescent protein genes were injected into right rat substantia nigra 4–5 weeks prior to 30 min ipsilateral of middle cerebral artery occlusion. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor–recombinant adeno-associated viral transduction markedly increased the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein by nigral cells. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor was transported anterogradely to the striatum and released in biologically active form, as revealed by the hypertrophic response of striatal neuropeptide Y-positive interneurons. Animals transduced with brain-derived neurotrophic factor-recombinant adeno-associated virus also exhibited abnormalities in body posture and movements, including tilted body to the right, choreiform movements of left forelimb and head, and spontaneous, so-called ‘barrel’ rotation along their long axis. The continuous delivery of brain-derived neurotrophic factor had no effect on the survival of striatal projection neurons after stroke, but exaggerated the loss of cholinergic, and parvalbumin- and neuropeptide Y-positive, γ-aminobutyric acid-ergic interneurons. The high brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in the animals subjected to stroke also gave rise to an increased number of striatal cells expressing doublecortin, a marker for migrating neuroblasts, and cells double-labelled with the mitotic marker, 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine-5′monophosphate, and early neuronal (Hu) or striatal neuronal (Meis2) markers. Our findings indicate that long-term anterograde delivery of high levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor increases the vulnerability of striatal interneurons to stroke-induced damage. Concomitantly, brain-derived neurotrophic factor potentiates the stroke-induced neurogenic response, at least at early stages.