This study tested efficiency of a novel thermoelectric cooler for local transcutaneous spinal cord cooling. Spinal cord compression was made by epidural balloon inflation at T8-T9 level of the spinal cord. Experimental animals (n=20) were divided into two groups. In the hypothermic group, local cooling started 25 min after spinal cord injury and lasted for 1 h with paravertebral temperature maintained at 28.5 degrees C (+/-0.3). Normothermic group underwent identical procedures, but their temperature was maintained normothermic. The assessment of neurologic recovery was performed once a week during a 4 weeks survival period. After 4 weeks animals were sacrificed and the extent of the spinal cord lesion morphometrically evaluated. There were no statistically significant intergroup differences in BBB scores and preserved volumes of the spinal cord tissue. In consecutive cross-sectional areas, hypothermic animals had significantly more preserved white matter at the cranial periphery of the lesion. It was concluded that mild posttraumatic hypothermia (31.8 degrees C) had some protective effect on tissue loss after spinal cord injury but this effect was not associated with functional improvement.