BACKGROUND: Crosstalk between the immune system in the brain and the periphery may contribute to the long-term outcome both in experimental and clinical stroke. Although, the immune defense collectin surfactant protein-D (SP-D) is best known for its role in pulmonary innate immunity, SP-D is also known to be involved in extrapulmonary modulation of inflammation in mice. We investigated whether SP-D affected cerebral ischemic infarction and ischemia-induced inflammatory responses in mice. METHODS: The effect of SP-D was studied by comparing the size of ischemic infarction and the inflammatory and astroglial responses in SP-D knock out (KO) and wild type (WT) mice subjected to permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion. SP-D mRNA production was assessed in isolated cerebral arteries and in the whole brain by PCR, and SP-D protein in normal appearing and ischemic human brain by immunohistochemistry. Changes in plasma SP-D and TNF were assessed by ELISA and proximity ligation assay, respectively. RESULTS: Infarct volumetric analysis showed that ablation of SP-D had no effect on ischemic infarction one and five days after induction of ischemia. Further, ablation of SP-D had no effect on the ischemia-induced increase in TNF mRNA production one day after induction of ischemia; however the TNF response to the ischemic insult was affected at five days. SP-D mRNA was not detected in parenchymal brain cells in either naïve mice or in mice subjected to focal cerebral ischemia. However, SP-D mRNA was detected in middle cerebral artery cells in WT mice and SP-D protein in vascular cells both in normal appearing and ischemic human brain tissue. Measurements of the levels of SP-D and TNF in plasma in mice suggested that levels were unaffected by the ischemic insult. Microglial-leukocyte and astroglial responses were comparable in SP-D KO and WT mice. CONCLUSIONS: SP-D synthesis in middle cerebral artery cells is consistent with SP-D conceivably leaking into the infarcted area and affecting local cytokine production. However, there was no SP-D synthesis in parenchymal brain cells and ablation of SP-D had no effect on ischemic cerebral infarction.