Extensive space occupying strokes occur in about 1-10% of all ischaemic supratentorial infarctions. Both the high mortality and morbidity primarily result from secondary brain damage due to an accompanying brain edema. Therefore, the primary therapeutic target in patients with space occupying strokes is the control of the brain edema and the consecutively elevated intracranial pressure. If intracranial pressure cannot be controlled by conservative treatment methods, a decompressive craniectomy (DC) is a possible treatment option in selected patients to reduce intracranial pressure. In this review recommendations from the surgeon's perspective are given concerning the indication and timing of DC in patients with space occupying supra- and infratentorial cerebral infarctions.