BACKGROUND : Elevated levels of plasma D-dimer increase the risk of ischemic stroke, stroke severity, and the progression of stroke status, but the association between plasma D-dimer level and functional outcome is unclear. The aim of this study is to investigate whether plasma D-dimer level is a determinant of short-term poor functional outcome in patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS). METHODS : This prospective study included 877 Chinese patients with AIS admitted to Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University within 72 h of symptom onset. Patients were categorized by plasma D-dimer level: Quartile 1(≤0.24 mg/L), Quartile 2 (0.25-0.56 mg/L), Quartile 3 (0.57-1.78 mg/L), and Quartile 4 (> 1.78 mg/L). The medical record of each patient was reviewed, and demographic, clinical, laboratory and neuroimaging information was abstracted. Functional outcome at 90 days was assessed with the modified Rankin Scale. RESULTS : Poor outcome was present in 302 (34.4%) of the 877 patients that were included in the study (mean age, 64 years; male, 68.5%). After adjustment for potential confounding variables, higher plasma D-dimer level on admission was associated with poor outcome (adjusted odds ratio 2.257, 95% confidence interval 1.349-3.777 for Q4:Q1; P trend = 0.004). According to receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, the best discriminating factor for poor outcome was a plasma D-dimer level ≥ 0.315 mg/L (area under the ROC curve 0.657; sensitivity 83.8%; specificity 41.4%). CONCLUSIONS : Elevated plasma D-dimer levels on admission are significantly associated with poor outcome after admission for AIS, suggesting the potential role of plasma D-dimer level as a predictive marker for short-term poor outcome in patients with AIS.