Spinal cord injury (SCI) often causes severe and permanent disabilities due to the regenerative failure of severed axons. Here we report significant locomotor recovery of both hindlimbs after a complete spinal cord crush. This is achieved by the unilateral transduction of cortical motoneurons with an AAV expressing hyper-IL-6 (hIL-6), a potent designer cytokine stimulating JAK/STAT3 signaling and axon regeneration. We find collaterals of these AAV-transduced motoneurons projecting to serotonergic neurons in both sides of the raphe nuclei. Hence, the transduction of cortical neurons facilitates the axonal transport and release of hIL-6 at innervated neurons in the brain stem. Therefore, this transneuronal delivery of hIL-6 promotes the regeneration of corticospinal and raphespinal fibers after injury, with the latter being essential for hIL-6-induced functional recovery. Thus, transneuronal delivery enables regenerative stimulation of neurons in the deep brain stem that are otherwise challenging to access, yet highly relevant for functional recovery after SCI.