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Thrombolysis with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) improves outcome in animal models of stroke and in clinical trial, but is associated with increased intracranial hemorrhage. Here, we explore the impact of biologic and experimental design factors on efficacy and bleeding. We conducted a systematic review of studies describing the effect of tPA in thrombotic occlusion models of ischemic stroke followed by random effects meta-analysis, meta-regression, and trim and fill. We identified 202, 66, 128, and 54 comparisons reporting infarct volume, neurobehavioral score, hemorrhage, and mortality, respectively. The rtPA reduced infarct volume by 25.2% (95% confidence interval=21.8 to 28.6, 3388 animals), improved neurobehavioral score by 18.0% (12.6% to 23.3%, n=1243), increased the risk of hemorrhage (odds ratio=1.71, 1.42 to 2.07, n=2833) and had no significant effect on mortality (odds ratio=0.82, 0.62 to 1.08, n=1274). There was an absolute reduction in efficacy of 1.1% (0.7% to 1.4%) for every 10 minutes delay to treatment. Cumulative meta-analysis showed that the estimate of efficacy fell as more data became available. Publication bias inflated efficacy by 5.1% (infarct volume) and 8.1% (neurobehavioral score). This data set was large enough to be adequately powered to estimate with precision the impact of biologic and experimental factors on the efficacy and safety of rtPA.