Spinal cord compression injuries were produced in rats by applying weights to a plate 2.2 x 50 mm in size, placed on the exposed midthoracic dura covering the spinal cord. The influence of force and duration of compression was studied by using 3 different weights, 20, 35 and 50 g, applied for 1, 5 and 10 min. Postoperative neurological function was tested by the inclined plane method and the rats were observed for 3 weeks. Neurological impairment increased with force and duration of compression. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that patients suffering from spinal cord injury should be investigated immediately for signs of persistent cord compression. If this is present, early decompression might be of value, although nothing is known in man concerning the limits of force and duration of compression permitting postoperative neurological recovery.