Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in young individuals worldwide. There is currently no effective clinical treatment for TBI, but mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes have exhibited promising therapeutic effects. In this study, we performed intracerebroventricular microinjection of human adipose mesenchymal stem cell (hADSC)-derived exosomes (hADSC-ex) in a weight-drop-induced TBI rat model. We found that hADSC-ex promoted functional recovery, suppressed neuroinflammation, reduced neuronal apoptosis, and increased neurogenesis in TBI rats. The therapeutic effects of hADSC-ex were comparable to those of hADSC. Sequential in vivo imaging revealed increasing aggregation of DiR-labeled hADSC-ex in the lesion area. Immunofluorescent staining of coronal brain sections and primary mixed neural cell cultures revealed distinct overlap between CM-DiI-labeled hADSC-ex and microglia/macrophages, indicating that hADSC-ex were mainly taken up by microglia/macrophages. In a lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory model, hADSC-ex suppressed microglia/macrophage activation by inhibiting nuclear factor κB and P38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling. These data suggest that hADSC-ex specifically enter microglia/macrophages and suppress their activation during brain injury, thereby inhibiting inflammation and facilitating functional recovery. They also offer new insight into the cellular targeting, uptake and migration of hADSC-ex, and provide a theoretical basis for new therapeutic strategies for central nervous system diseases.