The complex nature of spinal cord injury appears to demand a multifactorial repair strategy. One of the components that will likely be included is an implant that will fill the area of lost nervous tissue and provide a growth substrate for injured axons. Here we will discuss the role of Schwann cells (SCs) in cell-based, surgical repair strategies of the injured adult spinal cord. We will review key studies that showed that intraspinal SC grafts limit injury-induced tissue loss and promote axonal regeneration and myelination, and that this response can be improved by adding neurotrophic factors or anti-inflammatory agents. These results will be compared with several other approaches to the repair of the spinal cord. A general concern with repair strategies is the limited functional recovery, which is in large part due to the failure of axons to grow across the scar tissue at the distal graft-spinal cord interface. Consequently, new synaptic connections with spinal neurons involved in motor function are not formed. We will highlight repair approaches that did result in growth across the scar and discuss the necessity for more studies involving larger, clinically relevant types of injuries, addressing this specific issue. Finally, this review will reflect on the prospect of SCs for repair strategies in the clinic.