Background: High iron levels can increase the formation of noxious oxygen radicals, which are thought to contribute to cerebrovascular disease. The aim of this prospective study was to determine if iron status and HFE genotypes constitute risk factors for stroke. Methods: First-ever stroke cases (231 ischemic and 42 hemorrhagic) and matched double referents from the population-based Northern Sweden cohorts were studied in a nested case-referent setting. Results: For total iron binding capacity, an increased risk of ischemic stroke was seen in the highest quartile (OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.14-2.83; p for trend 0.012). The highest quartile of transferrin iron saturation showed a decreased risk of ischemic stroke in men (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.22-0.87; p for trend 0.028), but not in women. There was an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke in the second (OR 4.07; 95% CI 1.09-15.20) and third quartile (OR 4.22; 95% CI 1.08-16.42) of ferritin. Neither quartiles of plasma iron concentrations nor the HFE C282Y and H63D genotypes were associated with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. Conclusions: Iron stores were not positively related to increased risk of ischemic stroke. Furthermore, HFE genotypes did not influence the risk of ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. Copyright (c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.