High-dose methylprednisolone (15 to 30 mg/kg), administered 45 minutes after severe contusion injury (400 gm-cm) to cat spinal cords, rapidly reverses the typical posttraumatic ischemia that occurs in spinal injuries. White matter blood flow improves despite the systemic hypotension associated with bolus intravenous injections of such massive corticosteroid doses. In addition, this treatment facilitates extracellular calcium ionic recovery in contused spinal cords, and salvages evoked potential activity that is lost in untreated cats. These data suggest that high-dose corticosteroid treatment causes local vasodilation of spinal cord blood vessels. The consequent blood flow increase may account for the beneficial effects of high-dose corticosteroid treatment on both functional recovery and histopathological appearance of injured spinal cords.