Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of physical disability in children, and there is no cure. Umbilical cord blood (UCB) cell therapy for the treatment of children with cerebral palsy is currently being assessed in clinical trials. Although there is much interest in the use of UCB stem cells for neuroprotection and neuroregeneration, the mechanisms of action are not fully understood. Further, UCB contains many stem and progenitor cells of interest, and we will point out that individual cell types within UCB may elicit specific effects. UCB is a clinically proven source of hemotopoietic stem cells (HSCs). It also contains mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), and immunosupressive cells such as regulatory T cells (Tregs) and monocyte-derived supressor cells. Each of these cell types may be individual candidates for the prevention of brain injury following hypoxic and inflammatory events in the perinatal period. We will discuss specific properties of cell types in UCB, with respect to their therapeutic potential and the importance of optimal timing of administration. We propose that tailored cell therapy and targeted timing of administration will optimize the results for future clinical trials in the neuroprotective treatment of perinatal brain injury.