Acute aortic dissection is an uncommon, life-threatening catastrophe, and early diagnosis is essential for the best chance of survival. Although acute onset of severe chest or back pain is the most common presenting symptom, some patients might present with atypical symptoms and findings such as acute stroke and mesenteric ischaemia related to the involving arterial segment. Establishing the diagnosis of aortic dissection can be difficult in the presence of atypical symptoms, especially in the absence of pain. Here, we report a case of acute, painless aortic dissection presenting with multiple organ failure and neurological deficits suggesting acute ischaemic stroke. © 2011 The Authors. EMA © 2011 Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine.