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The treatments for ischemic stroke can only be administered in a narrow time-window. However, the ischemia onset time is unknown in ~30% of stroke patients (wake-up strokes). The objective of this study was to determine whether MR spectra of ischemic brains might allow the precise estimation of cerebral ischemia onset time. We modeled ischemic stroke in male ICR-CD1 mice using a permanent middle cerebral artery filament occlusion model with laser Doppler control of the regional cerebral blood flow. Mice were then subjected to repeated MRS measurements of ipsilateral striatum at 14.1[thinsp]T. A striking initial increase in [gamma]-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and no increase in glutamine were observed. A steady decline was observed for taurine (Tau), N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) and similarly for the sum of NAA+Tau+glutamate that mimicked an exponential function. The estimation of the time of onset of permanent ischemia within 6[thinsp]hours in a blinded experiment with mice showed an accuracy of 33[plusmn]10[thinsp]minutes. A plot of GABA, Tau, and neuronal marker concentrations against the ratio of acetate/NAA allowed precise separation of mice whose ischemia onset lay within arbitrarily chosen time-windows. We conclude that 1H-MRS has the potential to detect the clinically relevant time of onset of ischemic stroke.