Cultured Schwann cells were transplanted at various delays into a spinal cord contusion injury performed at low thoracic level in adult female rats. The Schwann cells were purified from the dorsal root ganglia of adult syngeneic animals. the transplants were well tolerated, and the transplanted Schwann cells invaded the injured spinal cord. As quantified using video image analysis, the survival and growth of the transplanted cells were poor when the grafting procedure was performed 3-4 days after injury and very good when performed immediately or 10 days after injury, in which cases post-traumatic micro- and macrocavitation were strongly reduced. In animals grafted immediately after injury but not in animals grafted after 10 days, post-traumatic astrogliosis was much reduced. The Schwann cells transplanted area was invaded by numerous regenerating axons, the vast majority of which were, based on the neurotransmitter (CGRP and SP) profile, originating from dorsal root ganglion. No regeneration of the corticospinal tract as assessed after anterograde tracing or of descending aminergic fibers could be demonstrated.