© 2018 The past decade has revealed much about the complexity of the local inflammatory response after spinal cord injury (SCI). A major challenge is to distinguish between microglia and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) to determine their phenotype and function. Transcriptome studies have revealed microglia-selective genes but are still limited in scope because many markers are downregulated after injury. Additionally, new genetic reporter mice are available to study microglia and MDMs. There is more evidence now for the plasticity and heterogeneity of microglia and MDMs. We also discuss the role of neutrophils that are the first peripheral cells to enter the injured CNS.