Umbilical cord blood is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells. It is routinely used for transplantation to repopulate cells of the immune system. Recent studies, however, have demonstrated that intravenous infusions of umbilical cord blood can ameliorate neurologic deficits associated with ischemic brain injury in rodents. Moreover, the infused cells penetrate into the parenchyma of the brain and adopt phenotypic characteristics typical of neural cells. In the present study we tested the hypothesis that the administration of umbilical cord blood can also diminish neurologic deficits caused by intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). Intracerebral hemorrhage is a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and at the present time there are no adequate therapies that can minimize the consequences of this cerebrovascular event. ICH was induced in rats by intrastriatal injections of collagenase to cause bleeding in the striatum. Twenty-four hours after the induction of ICH rats received intravenous saphenous vein infusions of human umbilical cord blood (2.4 x 10(6) to 3.2 to 10(6) cells). Animals were evaluated using a battery of tests at day 1 after ICH, but before the administration of umbilical cord blood, and at days 7, and 14 after ICH (days 6 and 13, respectively, after cord blood administration). These tests included a neurological severity test, a stepping test, and an elevated body-swing test. Animals with umbilical cord blood infusions exhibited significant improvements in (1) the neurologic severity test at 6 and 13 days after cord blood infusion in comparison to saline-treated animals (P < 0.05); (2) the stepping test at day 6 (P < 0.05); and (3) the elevated body-swing test at day 13 (P< 0.05). These results demonstrate that the administration of human umbilical cord blood cells can ameliorate neurologic deficits associated with intracerebral hemorrhage.