Malaria was expected to be a major problem during blood donation in Turkey due to existence of malaria cases in southeastern region of Turkey. The present study aimed for the first time, to investigate malaria in "donors deferred for malaria risk" and to determine the regional rates of malaria deferral in Turkey. Blood samples were collected from several Blood Banks of southeastern provinces where local malaria cases still exist and from Blood Bank of Ege University Medical School (EUMS) located in western Turkey where malaria is eradicated decades ago. Plasmodium spp. and specific antibodies were investigated by stained smears, antigen detection, PCR and ELISA. Among the donors deferred for malaria risk, Plasmodium spp. were not detected by microscopy, PCR or antigen detection. Sero-prevalances were 2% and 3.92% in western and southeastern regions, respectively. Rate of donor deferral for malaria risk was 0.9% in EUMS and deferrals were exclusively because of travel to southeastern Turkey. In southeastern provinces, deferrals were mainly due to malaria like fever history. The present study first time assessed regional rates of donor deferral due to malaria risk in Turkey. Previously, malaria was expected to be a major problem during blood donation in Turkey due to existence of malaria cases in southeastern region of Turkey. The results of the study showed that 97% of the deferrals were unnecessary. In conclusion, to reduce unnecessary donor deferrals in Turkey, in addition to comprehensive questioning for malaria history, the usage of a malaria antibody screening method should be initiated prior to deferral decision. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.