It has been shown that high doses of human recombinant erythropoietin (r epo) increase haemoglobin levels by augmentation of F-cells, and Hb-F production in animal models and in human trials. In this study, r epo was used in patients with beta thalassemia intermedia. Our purpose was to improve haemoglobin levels by at least 2 g and maintain an average level between 10 and 12 g/dl. Ten patients aged 6-29 years (mean 14 +/- 7.6 years) with thalassemia intermedia were treated with r epo, It was given subcutaneously in rising doses from 500 to 1000 U/kg three times weekly for 3 months. During r epo therapy eight cases (80 per cent) showed an increase in haemoglobin, haematocrit, and reticulocyte levels, and an increase of at least 2 g of haemoglobin was obtained, Blood transfusion was not needed during the study except in one case, Five cases (50 per cent) improved life quality with therapy, Hb levels of all patients returned to baseline values over 1 or 2 months after r epo was discontinued. There was no significant change in absolute Hb-F, F-cells, and ferritin levels during treatment. Generally, the drug was well tolerated. No patient had hypertension, Recombinant erythropoietin seems to be an effective treatment for anaemia of beta-thalassemia intermedia, but longer term randomized trials are needed especially in patients with beta thalassemia major.