Numerous reports elucidate that tissue-specific stem cells are phenotypically plastic and their differentiation pathways are not strictly delineated. Although the identity of all the epigenetic factors which may trigger stem cells to make a lineage selection are still unknown, the plasticity of adult stem cells opens new approaches for their application in the treatment of various disorders. There is increasing researcher interest in hematopoietic stem cells for treatment of not only blood-related diseases but also various unrelated disorders including neurodegenerative diseases. Human umbilical cord blood (hUCB) cells, due to their primitive nature and ability to develop into nonhematopoietic cells of various tissue lineages, including neural cells, may be useful as an alternative cell source for cell-based therapies requiring either the replacement of individual cell types and/or substitution of missing substances. Here we focus on recent findings showing the robustness of adult stem cells derived from hUCB and their potential as a source of transplant cells for the treatment of diseased or injured brains and spinal cords. Depending upon the pathological microenvironment in which the hUCB cells are introduced, neuroprotective and/or trophic effects of these cells, from release of various growth or anti-inflammatory factors to moderation of immune-inflammatory effectors, may be more likely than neural replacement. These protective effects may prove essential to maintaining restored tissue integrity over the course of various diseases or injuries.