Purpose To describe the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of caregivers and survivors of transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and stroke during one year post discharge in comparison to age- and sex-matched population norms; and to analyse the association of initial stroke severity, measured by a routinely used stroke-specific scale, on subsequent HRQoL of caregivers and survivors. Methods Cohort of hospitalized patients with TIA and stroke discharged alive from a large university hospital in Norway, and their informal caregivers. Questionnaires at 3 and 12 months post discharge were filled out by caregivers (n = 320 and n = 326, respectively) and survivors (n = 368 and n = 383, respectively). Multivariable linear regression analyses tested associations between initial stroke severity (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, NIHSS) and HRQoL (EQ-5D-3L) in caregivers and survivors. Results Caregivers of survivors with TIA or stroke did not report lower HRQoL than matched norms. There was some evidence of an association of the NIHSS with caregiver HRQoL at 3 months only (age-sex-adjusted coefficient - 0.01, p = 0.008), however, this was attenuated after additional adjustments. Survivors with stroke, but not TIA, reported lower HRQoL than population norms at both time points. There was a negative association between higher NIHSS scores and survivors' HRQoL; fully adjusted coefficient - 0.01 at both time points (p = 0.001). Conclusion The informal caregivers and survivors with TIA did not report lower than expected HRQoL. Increasing stroke severity was associated with decreasing HRQoL among survivors, but had limited predictive value among caregivers. Other factors may therefore be better indicators of 'at risk' caregivers.