The peripheral branch of primary sensory neurons regenerates after injury, but there is no regeneration when their central branch is severed by spinal cord injury. Here we show that microinjection of a membrane-permeable analog of cAMP in lumbar dorsal root ganglia markedly increases the regeneration of injured central sensory branches. The injured axons regrow into the spinal cord lesion, often traversing the injury site. This result mimics the effect of a conditioning peripheral nerve lesion. We also demonstrate that sensory neurons exposed to cAMP in vivo, when subsequently cultured in vitro, show enhanced growth of neurites and an ability to overcome inhibition by CNS myelin. Thus, stimulating cAMP signaling increases the intrinsic growth capacity of injured sensory axons. This approach may be useful in promoting regeneration after spinal cord injury.