CONTEXT: Management of patients with acute transient ischemic attack (TIA) varies widely, with some institutions admitting all patients and others proceeding with outpatient evaluations. Defining the short-term prognosis and risk factors for stroke after TIA may provide guidance in determining which patients need rapid evaluation. OBJECTIVE: To determine the short-term risk of stroke and other adverse events after emergency department (ED) diagnosis of TIA. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cohort study conducted from March 1997 through February 1998 in 16 hospitals in a health maintenance organization in northern California. Patients A total of 1707 patients (mean age, 72 years) identified by ED physicians as having presented with TIA. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Risk of stroke during the 90 days after index TIA; other events, including death, recurrent TIA, and hospitalization for cardiovascular events. RESULTS: During the 90 days after index TIA, 180 patients (10.5%) returned to the ED with a stroke, 91 of which occurred in the first 2 days. Five factors were independently associated with stroke: age greater than 60 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.7; P=.01), diabetes mellitus (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.4-2.9; P<.001), symptom duration longer than 10 minutes (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.3-4.2; P=.005), weakness (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.6; P<.001), and speech impairment (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.1; P=.01). Stroke or other adverse events occurred in 428 patients (25.1%) in the 90 days after the TIA and included 44 hospitalizations for cardiovascular events (2.6%), 45 deaths (2.6%), and 216 recurrent TIAs (12.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that the short-term risk of stroke and other adverse events among patients who present to an ED with a TIA is substantial. Characteristics of the patient and the TIA may be useful for identifying patients who may benefit from expeditious evaluation and treatment.