αB-crystallin is a member of the heat shock protein family that exerts cell protection under several stress-related conditions. Recent studies have revealed that αB-crystallin plays a beneficial role in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis, brain ischemia, and Alexander disease. Whether αB-crystallin plays a role in modulating the secondary damage after CNS trauma is not known. We report here that αB-crystallin mediates protective effects after spinal cord injury. The levels of αB-crystallin are reduced in spinal cord tissue following contusion lesion. In addition, administration of recombinant human αB-crystallin for the first week after contusion injury leads to sustained improvement in locomotor skills and amelioration of secondary tissue damage. We also provide evidence that recombinant human αB-crystallin modulates the inflammatory response in the injured spinal cord, leading to increased infiltration of granulocytes and reduced recruitment of inflammatory macrophages. Furthermore, the delivery of recombinant human αB-crystallin promotes greater locomotor recovery even when the treatment is initiated 6 h after spinal cord injury. Our findings suggest that administration of recombinant human αB-crystallin may be a good therapeutic approach for treating acute spinal cord injury, for which there is currently no effective treatment. © 2012 the authors.