In stroke research, a significant focus is to develop therapeutic strategies that prevent neuronal death and improve recovery. Yet, few successful therapeutic strategies have emerged. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a key regulator in hypoxia. It has been suggested to be an important player in neurological outcomes following ischemic stroke due to the functions of its downstream genes. These include genes that promote glucose metabolism, angiogenesis, erythropoiesis, and cell survival. Many lines of evidence have shown that HIF-1 is induced in ischemic brains. Importantly, it seems that HIF-1 is primarily induced in the salvageable tissue of an ischemic brain, penumbra. However, the effect of HIF-1 on neuronal tissue injuries is still debatable based on evidence from in vitro and preclinical studies. Furthermore, it is of importance to understand the mechanism of HIF-1 degradation after its induction in ischemic brain. This review provides a present understanding of the mechanism of HIF-1 induction in ischemic neurons and the potential effect of HIF-1 on ischemic brain tissue. The author also elaborates on potential therapeutic approaches through understanding of the induction mechanism and of the potential role of HIF-1 in ischemic stroke.