Molecular MRI allows in vivo detection of vascular cell adhesion molecules expressed on inflamed endothelium, which enables detection of specific targets for anti-neuroinflammatory treatment. We explored to what extent MR contrast agent targeted to intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) could detect endothelial- and leukocyte-associated ICAM-1 expression at different stages after experimental stroke. Furthermore, we assessed potential interfering effects of ICAM-1-targeted contrast agent on post-stroke lesion growth. Micron-sized particles of iron oxide (MPIO) functionalized with control IgG (IgG-MPIO) or anti-ICAM-1 antibody (αICAM-1-MPIO) were administrated at 1, 2, 3, 7, and 21 days after unilateral transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice, followed by in vivo MRI and postmortem immunohistochemistry. αICAM-1-MPIO induced significant contrast effects in the lesion core on post-stroke days 1, 2, and 3, and in the lesion borderzone and contralesional tissue on post-stroke day 2. αICAM-1-MPIO were confined to ICAM-1-positive vessels and occasionally co-localized with leukocytes. On post-stroke day 21, abundant leukocyte-associated αICAM-1-MPIO was immunohistochemically detected in the lesion core. However, MRI-based detection of αICAM-1-MPIO-labeled leukocytes was confounded by pre-contrast MRI hypointensities, presumably caused by phagocytosed blood remains. IgG-MPIO did not induce significant MRI contrast effects at 1 h after injection. Lesion development was not affected by injection of αICAM-1-MPIO or IgG-MPIO. αICAM-1-MPIO are suitable for in vivo MRI of ICAM-1 expression on vascular endothelium and leukocytes at different stages after stroke. Development of clinically applicable MPIO may offer unique opportunities for MRI-based diagnosis of neuroinflammation and identification of anti-inflammatory targets in acute stroke patients.