- Middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) is widely used as a rat model of focal brain ischemia. Evaluation of brain damage often includes the morphological analysis of the injury area, MRI, and various scales which depend on functional tests, commonly known as neurological severity score (NSS). We determined the optimal number of NSS tests and assessed their capacity for non-invasive evaluation of brain ischemic injury in the rat MCAO model. 275 male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into five groups, given either permanent (p) MCAO or transient (t) MCAO using an uncoated 4-0 monofilament catheter or a silicone-coated monofilament. The rats’ neurological status was examined before and at 1 and 24 h following MCAO. The size of brain injury was then measured histologically and the extent of right cerebral hemisphere edema was calculated. We established a correlation between these tests and morphological data for brain injury. Adjusted R 2 of the prediction of total histology score was 0.7. The Hosmer–Lemeshow p -value of this model was 0.812 for total brain histology. For the brain edema the adjusted R 2 of the prediction model was 0.48. The Hosmer–Lemeshow p -value of this model was 0.558 for brain edema. Our methods of estimating infarct size produces reliable and well correlated results at 24 h and demonstrates to be an easy and quick way to assess infarct size soon after ischemic injury has occurred. The described method for neurological assessment could ultimately aid in assessing various treatment modalities in the early hours following stroke.