This study aims to establish the frequency of paralysis and other arm problems after stroke; the recovery of lost function; and to compare various tests of the affected arm. Thirteen per cent of the sample had no arm paralysis when first seen within 14 days. At 3 months 24 per cent of survivors had moderate or severe paralysis; 57 per cent could place nine pegs into holes within 50 seconds; 19 per cent had significant sensory disturbance; 5 per cent had shoulder pain; 8 per cent had restricted passive shoulder movement; and 17 per cent had some paralysis of the dominant arm. Between 3 and 6 months, improvement of motor power was seen in 40 per cent of patients, and 13 per cent of patients improved their function. Severity of initial paralysis was an important prognostic factor.