Acetylcholinesterase (AChE; EC 126.96.36.199) is present in both primitive and mature erythroid cells, and a role has been suggested for the enzyme in regulation of differentiation in the human erythron. AChE is also a major enzyme in the central nervous system; alteration of its activity has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy in Alzheimer disease. We recently treated 18 Alzheimer disease patients with metrifonate, a long-acting AChE inhibitor, over periods up to 7 months, with resulting erythrocyte AChE inhibition as high as 82 per cent of baseline values. Despite chronic reduction of enzyme activity, no significant alterations were noted in erythrocyte, leukocyte or platelet characteristics or numbers that would suggest a deleterious effect of AChE inhibition on normal differentiation. Thus, any modification of developmental pathways appears to be compensated by other regulatory mechanisms in the intact organism.