The present study was designed to relate functional locomotor outcome to the anatomical extent and localization of lesions in the rat spinal cord. We performed dorsal and ventral lesions of different severity in 36 adult rats. Lesion depth, spared total white matter, and spared ventrolateral funiculus were compared to the locomotor outcome, assessed by the BBB open-field locomotor score and the grid walk test. The results showed that the preservation of a small number of fibers in the ventral or lateral funiculus was related to stepping abilities and overground locomotion, whereas comparable tissue preservation in the dorsal funiculus resulted in complete paraplegia. The strongest relation to locomotor function was between the BBB score and the lesion depth as well as the BBB score and the spared white matter tissue in the region of the reticulospinal tract. Locomotion on the grid walk required sparing in the ventrolateral funiculus and additional sparing of the dorsolateral and dorsal funiculus, where the cortico- and rubrospinal tracts are located.