We studied whether spinal locomotor centres of patients with paraplegia can be activated by external stimuli. In patients with complete paraplegia, coordinated stepping movements were induced by weight support and standing on a moving treadmill. The pattern of leg muscle electromyographic (EMG) activity was similar to that seen in healthy subjects although EMG amplitude was smaller. With daily training the amplitude of gastrocnemius EMG activity increased during weight-bearing phase of stepping and the degree of inappropriate tibialis anterior activity decreased. Patients with incomplete paraplegia profited from the training programme in that their walking on a stationary surface improved even when unsupported. Our results may suggest new ways to improve mobility of patients with paraplegia.