Cellular responses after spinal cord injury include activation of astrocytes, degeneration of neurons and oligodendrocytes, and reactions of the ependymal layer and meningeal cells. Because it has been suggested that tissue repair partially recapitulates morphogenesis, we have investigated the expression of several developmentally prominent molecules after spinal cord injury of adult mice where neurogenesis does not occur after injury. Cell fate determinants Numb, Notch-1, Shh and BMPs are abundantly expressed during development but mostly decline in the adult. In the present study, we investigated whether these genes are triggered by spinal cord injury as a sign of attempted recapitulation of development. Expression of Numb, Notch, Shh, BMP2/4 and Msx1/2 was analysed in the adult mouse spinal cord after compression injury by in situ hybridization up to 1 month after injury. The mRNA expression levels of Notch-1, Numb, Shh, BMP4 and Msx2 increased in the grey matter and/or white matter and in the ependyma rostral and caudal to the lesion site after injury. However, BMP2 and Msx1 were not up-regulated. Combining immunohistochemistry of cell type-specific markers with in situ hybridization we found that all the up-regulated genes were expressed in neurons. Moreover, Numb, BMP4 and Msx2 were also expressed by GFAP-positive astrocytes, while Shh was expressed by MBP-positive oligodendrocytes. In conclusion, the cell fate determinants Notch-1, Numb, Shh, BMP4 and Msx2 are expressed in neurons and/or glial cells after injury in a time-dependent manner, suggesting that these genes reflect to some extent an endogenous self-repair potential by recapitulating some features of development.