Spinal cord injury often results in permanent functional impairment. Neural stem cells present in the adult spinal cord can be expanded in vitro and improve recovery when transplanted to the injured spinal cord, demonstrating the presence of cells that can promote regeneration but that normally fail to do so efficiently. Using genetic fate mapping, we show that close to all in vitro neural stem cell potential in the adult spinal cord resides within the population of ependymal cells lining the central canal. These cells are recruited by spinal cord injury and produce not only scar-forming glial cells, but also, to a lesser degree, oligodendrocytes. Modulating the fate of ependymal progeny after spinal cord injury may offer an alternative to cell transplantation for cell replacement therapies in spinal cord injury.