Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is the most common anatomical cause of an interatrial shunt. It is usually asymptomatic but may cause paradoxical embolism, manifesting as stroke, myocardial infarction or visceral/peripheral ischaemia. PFO is a risk factor for stroke and may be associated with migraine with aura. New evidence suggests PFO closure reduces the risk of recurrent ischaemic stroke in a highly selected population of stroke survivors: those aged 60 years or younger with a cryptogenic stroke syndrome, a large right-to-left shunt, an atrial septal aneurysm and no evidence of atrial fibrillation. They benefit from percutaneous PFO closure in addition to antiplatelet therapy, rather than antiplatelet therapy alone. Current evidence does not support PFO closure in the treatment of migraine.