We have investigated anemia in patients at different stages of the evolution of three chronic renal diseases: Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN), chronic pyelonephritis (PN) and chronic glomerulonephritis (GN). A total of 88 patients with creatinine clearances from 9 to 118 ml/min and hemoglobin concentrations from 70 to 160 g/l were studied with regard to the relationship, if any, between erythropoietin production and the type and stage of nephropathy. Anemia in BEN was a particular focus of interest since it had been stated that in BEN, anemia precedes renal failure. Our data neither prove nor disprove this statement. A significant positive correlation between creatinine clearance and hemoglobin concentration was found in all three nephropathies, indicating that in the patients studied the severity of anemia increased with the impairment of renal function regardless of the underlying disease. Serum levels of immunoreactive erythropoietin were in the normal range in 54 patients, moderately increased in 20 and slightly decreased in 14. The erythropoietin level appears to be unrelated to the stage of renal failure or the type of nephropathy. The only exception was the subgroup where the patients with glomerulonephritis and normal renal function had increased serum erythropoietin levels and significantly higher parameters of red blood cell concentration than the patients from the same subgroup with tubulointerstitial nephropathies. In patients with severe renal failure and anemia, serum erythropoietin levels were inappropriately low for the degree of anemia, indicating that erythropoietin plays a role in the pathogenesis of the anemia.