Experimental design. 42 Wistar rats were randomly treated with either FAU (group 1; 1-sleeve plaster cast onto unaffected limb at 8/10 days), VE (group 2; connection of a freely accessible running wheel to cage), or a cage control condition (group 3) for 10 days starting at 48 hours after photothrombotic stroke of sensorimotor cortex (day 3 to 13). Functional outcome was measured using two sensorimotor tests focused on motor control of the front paw (adhesive tape removal and cylinder tests) at baseline before ischemia (day 0), 2 days after ischemia (day 2), after the training period of 10 days (day 13), and at 3 (day 19) and 4 weeks (day 26) after ischemia by an investigator blinded to the experimental groups. Animals were sacrificed at 4 weeks after induction of stroke. For gene expression changes samples were taken from the ipsi- and contralateral cortex and the hippocampus, and hybridized to Affymetrix DNA arrays.