Many advances have been achieved in terms of understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of ischemic stroke. But thus far, clinically effective neuroprotectants remain elusive. In this minireview, we summarize the basics of ischemic cascades after stroke, covering neuronal death mechanisms, white matter pathophysiology, and inflammation with an emphasis on microglia. Translating promising mechanistic knowledge into clinically meaningful stroke drugs is very challenging. An integrative approach that encompasses the multimodal and multicell signaling phenomenon of stroke will be required to move forward.