Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury (SCI) are increasingly recognised as global health priorities in view of the preventability of most injuries and the complex and expensive medical care they necessitate. We aimed to measure the incidence, prevalence, and years of life lived with disability (YLDs) for TBI and SCI from all causes of injury in every country, to describe how these measures have changed between 1990 and 2016, and to estimate the proportion of TBI and SCI cases caused by different types of injury.