Neutrophil infiltration has been reported to play an important role in spinal cord injury (SCI). In addition to their cardioprotective effects, beta-blockers have been found to have neuroprotective effects on the central nervous system, but their effect on SCI has not yet been studied. In the current study, we investigated the effect of metoprolol on myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, a marker of neutrophil activation, in the spinal cord after experimental SCI in rats. Rats were divided into six groups: controls received only laminectomy and spinal cord samples were taken immediately; the sham operated group received laminectomy, and spinal cord samples were taken 4 h after laminectomy; the trauma only group underwent a 50 g/cm contusion injury but received no medication; and three other groups underwent trauma as for the trauma group, and received 30 mg/kg methylprednisolone, 1 mg/kg metoprolol, or 1 mL saline, respectively. All the medications were given intraperitoneally as single doses, immediately after trauma. Spinal cord samples were taken 4 h after trauma and studied for MPO activity. The results showed that tissue MPO activity increased after injury. Both metoprolol and methylprednisolone treatments decreased MPO activity, indicating a reduction in neutrophil infiltration in damaged tissue. The effect of metoprolol on MPO activity was found to be similar to methylprednisolone. In view of these data, we conclude that metoprolol may be effective in protecting rat spinal cord from secondary injury. (c) 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.