It has been previously reported that the blockade of interleukin-7 receptor (IL-7R) promotes functional recovery following spinal cord injury (SCI), however, the direct function and molecular mechanism of IL-7 involved in this pathogenic process are unclear. Here, we report that, contrary to IL-7R blockade, the intraspinal administration of IL-7 limits functional recovery following SCI. In addition, IL-7 treatment promotes neuronal apoptosis in spinal cord lesions, which may be attributed to exacerbated focal inflammatory response, as shown by increased accumulation of activated microglia/macrophage and production of proinflammatory mediators. Moreover, IL-7 treatment activates JAK/STAT5 pathway following SCI. At last, more importantly, the pharmacological inhibition of STAT5 abrogates the effects of IL-7 treatment on functional recovery, neuronal apoptosis and focal inflammatory response, suggesting that the effects of IL-7 treatment following SCI are dependent on activating the JAK/STAT5 pathway. Overall, this study reveals the JAK/STAT5 pathway-dependent detrimental role of IL-7 following SCI, and also implies that targeting the IL-7/JAK/STAT5 axis may represent a potential therapeutic approach for SCI treatment.