We reviewed the early development of various focal ischemia models in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), and summarized recent reports on this topic. Among 6 focal ischemia models established in divergent substrains of SHR, distal middle cerebral artery occlusion is the most frequently used and relevant method of focal ischemia in the light of penumbra concept. We performed an online PubMed search (2001-2010), and identified 118 original articles with focal ischemia in SHR. Physiological parameters such as age, body weight, and even blood pressure were often neglected in the literature: the information regarding the physiological parameters of SHR is critical, and should be provided within the methodology section of all articles related to stroke models in SHR. Although the quality of recent studies on neuroprotective strategy is improving, the mechanisms underlying the protection should be more clearly recognized so as to facilitate the translation from animal studies to human stroke. To overcome the genetic heterogeneity in substrains of SHR, new approaches, such as a huge repository of genetic markers in rat strains and the congenic strategy, are currently in progress.