Anemia and transfusion need constitute major problems for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and are associated with reduced quality of life, poorer survival and an increased risk for transformation to AML. Treatment with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) is first-line treatment for the anemia of most patients with MDS. Erythropoietin acts synergistically with G-CSF to inhibit erythroid apoptosis and promote erythrocyte production. The median duration of response is 2–3 years, with patients responding for more than a decade. Onset of a permanent transfusion need is delayed if treatment is introduced early after the onset of symptomatic anemia. A positive effect on long-term outcome has been suggested by several large epidemiological studies, with no difference in the rate of leukemic transformation between treated and untreated patients. Moreover, responding patients show improvement of quality of life and exercise capacity. Response to treatment can be predicted by combining serum erythropoietin, transfusion rate, and flow cytometry profiling.