Background: Higher circulating levels of tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 early after ischemic stroke have been associated with lower survival. The objectives of this study were to determine serum TIMP-1 levels during the first week of a severe cerebral infarction in surviving and non-surviving patients, and whether those levels during the first week could be used as a mortality biomarker for these patients. Methods: We included patients with severe malignant middle cerebral artery infarction (MMCAI) defined as computer tomography showing ischaemic changes in more than 50% of the middle cerebral artery territory and Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) <= 8. We measured serum levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-9 and TIMP-1. End-point study was 30-day mortality. Results: We found higher TIMP-1 concentrations at days 1 (p < 0.001), 4 (p = 0.001), and 8 (p = 0.03) of MMCAI in non-urviving (n = 34) than in surviving (n = 34) patients. We found lower serum MMP-9 concentrations at day 1 (p = 0.03) of MMCAI and no significant differences at days 4 and 8. ROC curve analysis of TIMP-1 concentrations performed at days 1, 4, and 8 of MMCAI showed an area under curve to predict 30-day mortality of 81% (p < 0.001), 80% (p < 0.001) and 72% (p = 0.07) respectively. Conclusions: The new findings of our study were that non-surviving MMCAI patients showed higher serum TIMP-1 levels during the first week of MMCAI that surviving patients, and those levels during the first week of MMCAI could be used as mortality biomarkers.