We have reviewed a battery of useful tests for evaluating sensorimotor function and plasticity acutely and chronically in unilateral rat models of central nervous system injury. These tests include forelimb use for weight shifting during vertical exploration in a cylindrical enclosure, an adhesive removal test of sensory function, and forelimb placing. These tests monitor recovery of sensorimotor function independent of the extent of test experience. Data are presented for four models, including permanent focal ischemia, focal injury to the forelimb area of sensorimotor cortex, dopaminergic neurodegeneration of the nigrostriatal system, and cervical spinal cord injury. The effect of the dendrite growth promoting factor, Osteogenic Protein-1 (OP-1) on outcome following permanent middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion was used as an example to illustrate how the tests can be applied preclinically. OP-1 showed a beneficial effect on limb use asymmetry in the cylinder test.