Stroke, a major cause of disability and mortality in the elderly, occurs when a cerebral blood vessel is occluded or ruptured, resulting in ischemic damage and death of brain cells. The injury mechanism involves metabolic and oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, apoptosis and inflammatory processes, including activation of glial cells and infiltration of leukocytes. In animal models, dietary energy restriction, by daily calorie reduction (CR) or intermittent fasting (IF), extends lifespan and decreases the development of age-related diseases. Dietary energy restriction may also benefit neurons, as suggested by experimental evidence showing that CR and IF protect neurons against degeneration in animal models. Recent findings by our group and others suggest the possibility that dietary energy restriction may protect against stroke induced brain injury, in part by inducing the expression of neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF); protein chaperones, including heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) and glucose regulated protein 78 (GRP78); antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutases (SOD) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), silent information regulator T1 (SIRT1), uncoupling proteins and anti-inflammatory cytokines. This article discusses the protective mechanisms activated by dietary energy restriction in ischemic stroke.