Objectives: (1) To identify different patterns of changes in wheelchair exercise capacity in the period between the start of active spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation and 5 years after discharge; (2) to examine the pattern determinants of the change in wheelchair exercise capacity. Design: Prospective cohort study. Measurements were recorded at the start of active inpatient rehabilitation, 3 months after the start, at discharge of inpatient rehabilitation, 1 year after discharge, and 5 years after discharge. Setting: Eight rehabilitation centers. Participants: Persons with SCI (N=130; age range, 18-65y), who were wheelchair-dependent, at least for long distances. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measure: Wheelchair exercise capacity: peak power output (W). Results: We found 4 different patterns of the change of peak power output (mean ± SD): (1) a pattern with high and progressive scores (33% of total study group): high progressive scores (start of rehabilitation: 49±15W to 5 years after discharge: 77±17.2W); (2) a pattern of improvement during inpatient rehabilitation and deterioration after inpatient rehabilitation (12%): progressive scores during inpatient rehabilitation with deteriorating scores after discharge (start of rehabilitation: 29±8.7W, to discharge: 60±8.4W, to 5 years after discharge: 39±13.1W); (3) a pattern with low and only slightly progressive scores (52%): low progressive scores (start of rehabilitation: 20±10.1W to 5 years after discharge: 31±15.9W); and (4) a pattern with low scores during inpatient rehabilitation and a sharp rise after discharge (3%): low inpatient scores with strong progressive scores after discharge (start of rehabilitation: 29±15.5W to 5 years after discharge: 82±10.6W). A logistic regression of factors that may distinguish between patterns with high and progressive scores and patterns with low and only slightly progressive scores revealed that older age, being a woman, having a tetraplegic lesion, and low functional status were associated with patterns with low and only slightly progressive scores. The pattern of improvement during inpatient rehabilitation and deterioration after inpatient rehabilitation showed more neuropathic pain and lower sports participation than patterns with high and progressive scores. Conclusions: For the vast majority of patients, wheelchair exercise capacity after SCI shows a positive trend and can be described in distinct patterns that are dependent on personal, lesion, and functional characteristics. © 2013 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.