The present study characterizes axonal pathology associated with traumatic compression injuries of the spinal cord and quantitatively assesses subtypes of axonal pathology in the acute, post-injury period. Eighteen adult female Wistar rats underwent spinal cord compression injury with a 53 g modified aneurysm clip at the C8-T1 segment. Six additional rats served as sham controls. Six experimental animals were sacrificed at each of the three post-injury time points: 15 min, 2 h and 24 h. From all animals, the C8-T1 spinal cord was dissected and processed for both light and electron microscopy. Axonal pathology included periaxonal swelling, organelle accumulation, vesicular myelin, myelin invagination, myelin rupture, and giant axons. Early myelin rupture and the ultrastructural features of giant axons are described here for the first time in the context of spinal cord compression injury. The quantitative analysis characterizes the prevalence of types of axonal pathology over the acute post-injury period and provides evidence for the secondary injury hypothesis regarding the evolution of axonal pathophysiology following trauma.