Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a severe neurological disease. An effective strategy for the treatment of SCI is urgently required. Stem cell transplantation has emerged as a viable therapeutic option with great potential for restoring neurological function lost following SCI. From 2009 to 2010, a total of 20 SCI patients were enrolled in a clinical trial by Wuhan Hongqiao Brain Hospital; all patients completed and signed informed consent prior to autologous bone marrow‑derived mesenchymal stem cell transplantation. Analysis of subsequent treatment results indicated significant improvements in sensory, motor and autonomic nerve function as assessed by the American Spinal Injury Association’s impairment scale. Thirty days after transplantation, a total of 15 patients (75%) demonstrated improvement, including four of the eight patients (50%) with grade A SCI, three of the four patients (75%) with grade B injury and all eight patients (100%) with grade C injury. The most common adverse events, fever and headache, disappeared within 24‑48 h without treatment.