We have previously reported that the transplantation of dendritic cells (DCs) brings about functional recovery after spinal cord injury in mice through the activation of endogenous microglia/macrophages and neural stem/progenitor cells. In this study, the effect of interleukin-12 (IL-12), which is secreted from DCs, was evaluated for the treatment of spinal cord injury in mice. Administration of IL-12 into the injured site significantly increased the number of activated microglia/macrophages and DCs as well as the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor surrounding the lesion site. Immunohistochemical analyses showed that de novo neurogenesis and remyelination were induced by IL-12 treatment. Furthermore, an open field test using Basso-Beattie-Brenham scoring revealed a significant improvement of locomotor function in mice treated with IL-12. These results suggest that IL-12 administration into the injured spinal cord results in a functional recovery through the activation of microglia/macrophages and DCs. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.