Cognitive deficits are common among patients with acute spinal cord injury (SCI), but reported prevalence figures vary because of different methods of study. Factors associated with cognitive deficits in patients with SCI include age, educational background, history of learning disability, chronic alcohol and substance abuse, and concomitant or recurrent traumatic brain injury. Psychologic testing of patients with and without cognitive deficits indicates that impaired psychosocial adjustment and adaptation are more frequent in SCI patients who have evidence of cognitive deficits. Various associations have been found between neuropsychologic test performance and major depression. Cognitive functioning and premorbid educational level appear to be associated with medical stability, the patient's ability to assimilate the necessary skills for survival and adaptation after SCI, and readmission patterns after discharge for initial inpatient rehabilitation. © 1992.