Atherosclerosis is a major cause of ischemic stroke that can be effectively prevented with appropriate lifestyle modifications and control of cardiovascular risk factors. Medical advances in recent years along with aggressive cardiovascular risk factor modifications have resulted in decreased recurrence rates of atherosclerotic stroke. Non-statin lipid-lowering molecules have recently shown clinical benefit and are recommended for very high-risk patients to reduce their risk of stroke. Aggressive hypertension treatment is crucial to reduce atherosclerotic stroke risk. Advances in antithrombotic treatments include combinations of antiplatelets and new antiplatelet agents in the acute phase post-stroke, which carries a high risk of recurrence. Intensive medical treatment has also limited the indications for carotid interventions, especially for asymptomatic disease. Intracranial atherosclerotic disease may provoke stroke through various mechanisms; it is increasingly recognized as a cause of ischemic stroke with advanced imaging and is best managed with lifestyle modifications and medical therapy. The diagnostic search for the vulnerable culprit atherosclerotic plaque is an area of intense research, from the level of the intracranial arteries to that of the aortic arch. Ultrasonography and novel magnetic resonance imaging techniques (high-resolution vessel-wall imaging) may assist in the identification of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques as the underlying cause in cryptogenic or misdiagnosed non-atherosclerotic ischemic stroke. Vertebrobasilar atherosclerotic disease is less common than carotid artery disease; thus, high-quality data on effective prevention strategies are scarcer. However, aggressive medical treatment is also the gold standard to reduce cerebrovascular disease located in posterior circulation.