Clinical practice and scientific research may soon lead to treatments designed to repair spinal cord injury. Repair is likely to be partial in the first trials, extending only one or two segments below the original injury. Furthermore, treatments that are becoming available are likely to be applied to the thoracic spinal cord to minimise loss of function resulting from damage to surviving connections. These provisos have prompted research into the improvement of clinical and physiological tests designed (1) to determine the level and density of a spinal cord injury, (2) to provide reliable monitoring of recovery over one or two spinal cord segments, and (3) to provide indices of function provided by thoracic spinal root innervation, presently largely ignored in assessment of spinal cord injury. This article reviews progress of the Clinical Initiative, sponsored by the International Spinal Research Trust, to advance the clinical and physiological tests of sensory, motor and autonomic function needed to achieve these aims.