Abstract Recombinant erythropoietin (rHuEPO) is used extensively to treat anaemia associated with chronic kidney disease. However, the development of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) to rHuEPO can result in the development of antibody-mediated pure red cell aplasia (PRCA). The detection of NAb in patient sera by in vitro bioassay relies on the inhibition of a cellular response to rHuEPO. Current bioassays for rHuEPO measure proliferation in responsive cell lines such as the erythroleukaemic cell lines, UT-7 and UT-7/EPO, the latter sensitized to EPO. Using these cell lines, we show the dose-responsive induction of both PIM1 and EGR1 gene expression in UT-7 cells and of EGR1 in UT-7/EPO cells. The expression of EGR1 in UT-7/EPO cells in response to rHuEPO was comparable to the proliferative response measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation and could be inhibited by serum from a patient with NAb-mediated PRCA in a dilution-dependent manner. Bioassays based on the induction of endogenous gene expression are comparable to current bioassays but are considerably quicker given that incubation time is decreased from 2–3days to 50min. Measurement of EGR1 gene expression in response to rHuEPO in UT-7/EPO cells offers a rapid, non-radioactive and automatable alternative to current assays for the detection of rHuEPO NAbs.