Atelectasis occurs frequently in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). Impaired cough leads to ineffective clearance of secretions. If the secretions cannot be cleared and become thick and purulent, atelectasis may occur. Recombinant human DNase (rhDNase) has been shown to decrease purulent sputum viscosity in vitro. We report two SCI patients with respiratory failure due to recurrent atelectasis from purulent secretions in whom conventional treatment methods had failed. Administration of rhDNase resulted in successful resolution of atelectasis. These results suggest the need for a controlled clinical trial.