Background and purpose A multi-country European study using data from six healthcare databases from four countries was performed to evaluate in a large study population (>32 million) the risk of ischemic stroke (IS) associated with individual NSAIDs and to assess the impact of risk factors of IS and co-medication. Methods Case-control study nested in a cohort of new NSAID users. For each case, up to 100 sex- and age-matched controls were selected and confounder-adjusted odds ratios for current use of individual NSAIDs compared to past use calculated. Results 49,170 cases of IS were observed among 4,593,778 new NSAID users. Use of coxibs (odds ratio 1.08, 95%-confidence interval 1.02–1.15) and use of traditional NSAIDs (1.16, 1.12–1.19) were associated with an increased risk of IS. Among 32 individual NSAIDs evaluated, the highest significant risk of IS was observed for ketorolac (1.46, 1.19–1.78), but significantly increased risks (in decreasing order) were also found for diclofenac, indomethacin, rofecoxib, ibuprofen, nimesulide, diclofenac with misoprostol, and piroxicam. IS risk associated with NSAID use was generally higher in persons of younger age, males, and those with a prior history of IS. Conclusions Risk of IS differs between individual NSAIDs and appears to be higher in patients with a prior history of IS or transient ischemic attack (TIA), in younger or male patients. Co-medication with aspirin, other antiplatelets or anticoagulants might mitigate this risk. The small to moderate observed risk increase (by 13–46%) associated with NSAIDs use represents a public health concern due to widespread NSAID usage.