Background and Purpose - In Germany, basic data on stroke morbidity are lacking. If a population-based register in former East Germany is excluded, only routine mortality statistics have thus far provided information on epidemiology of stroke. Therefore, a population-based register of stroke was set up in Southern Germany to determine incidence and case fatality in a defined German population. Methods - The Erlangen Stroke Project (ESPro) is a prospective community-based study among the 101 450 residents of the city of Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany. Standard definitions and overlapping case- finding methods were used to identify all cases of first-ever stroke in all age-groups, occurring in the 2 years of registration (April 1, 1994, to March 31, 1996). All identified cases of first-ever strokes were followed up at 3 and 12 months from onset. Results - During 2 years of registration, 354 first-ever-in-a-lifetime strokes (FELS) were registered. The diagnosis and stroke type were confirmed by CT scan in 95% of cases. Fifty-one percent of all FELS occurred in the age group ≥75 years of age. The crude annual incidence rate was 1.74 per 1000 (1.47 for men and 2.01 for women). After age-adjustment to the European population, the incidence rate was 1.34 per 1000 (1.48 for men and 1.25 for women). The annual crude incidence rate of cerebral infarction was 1.37/1000, intracerebral hemorrhage 0.24/1000, subarachnoid hemorrhage 0.06/1000, and unspecified stroke 0.08/1000. Overall case fatality at 28 days was 19.4%, at 3 months it was 28.5%, and at 1 year 37.3%. Conclusions - The first prospective community-based stroke register including all age groups in Germany revealed incidence rates of stroke similar to those reported from other population-based studies in western industrialized countries, but lower than that observed in former East Germany.