The integrity of cerebral microvessels requires the close apposition of the endothelium to the astrocyte endfeet. Integrins alpha1beta1 and alpha6beta4 are cellular matrix receptors that may contribute to cerebral microvascular integrity. It has been hypothesized that focal ischemia alters integrin expression in a characteristic time-dependent manner consistent with neuron injury. The effects of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and various periods of reperfusion on microvasclar integrin alpha1beta1 and alpha6beta4 expression were examined in the basal ganglia of 17 primates. Integrin subunits alpha1 and beta1 colocalized with the endothelial cell antigen CD31 in nonischemic microvessels and with glial fibrillary acidic protein on astrocyte fibers. Rapid, simultaneous, and significant disappearance of both integrin alpha1 and beta1 subunits and integrin alpha6beta4 occurred by 2 hours MCAO, which was greatest in the region of neuron injury (ischemic core, Ic), and progressively less in the peripheral (Ip) and nonischemic regions (N). Transcription of subunit beta1 mRNA on microvessels increased significantly in the Ic/Ip border and in multiple circular subregions within Ic. Microvascular integrin alpha1beta1 and integrin alpha6beta4 expression are rapidly and coordinately lost in Ic after MCAO. With loss of integrin alpha1beta1, multiple regions of microvascular beta1 mRNA up-regulation within Ic suggest that microvessel responses to focal ischemia are dynamic, and that multiple cores, not a single core, are generated. These changes imply that microvascular integrity is modified in a heterogeneous, but ordered pattern.