The literature concerning the psychological consequences following spinal cord injury (SCI) indicates a discordance between clinical impressions and empirical research. Although many studies report that psychological morbidity is not an inevitable consequence of SCI, much of this research is characterised by methodological inadequacies and the conclusions are therefore tenuous. The present study assessed 41 persons with SCI for depression and anxiety using objective psychological measures on three occasions over the first year of SCI and compared them with 41 able bodied controls matched for age, sex, education and, as far as possible, occupation. Results demonstrated significant differences between the two groups, with the SCI group being more anxious and depressed. However, psychological morbidity was not an inevitable consequence of SCI, with group means reflecting mild levels of depression and anxiety. No significant differences were found across time and no interactions between groups and time were detected. Implications for the treatment of SCI are discussed.