The v-erbA oncogene confers two prominent properties on transformed erythroblasts: a block of spontaneous differentiation and tolerance to wide variations in the pH or ionic strength of culture medium. V-erbA acts as a constitutive repressor of erythrocyte-specific gene transcription, arresting the expression of at least three different erythroid genes: the erythrocyte anion transporter (band 3), carbonic anhydrase II (CAII) and delta-aminolevulinate synthase (ALA-S). To test whether or not the v-erbA induced repression of these genes is causally related to the v-erbA induced leukaemic phenotype, we have reintroduced the genes for band 3 or CAII into transformed erythroblasts via retrovirus vectors. We show here that such erythroblasts, expressing v-erbA, require the same narrow range of medium pH and ion concentration for growth as do transformed erythroblasts lacking v-erbA, i.e. the v-erbA induced tolerance to pH variation was abrogated. The v-erbA induced differentiation block, however, remained unaffected by the re-expression of band 3 and was only slightly affected by the re-expression of CAII. Our experiments show that the two v-erbA-related 'erythroblast transformation parameters' are separable: suppression of band 3 and CAII accounts for one parameter (pH/ion tolerance), while the second parameter (differentiation block) must involve v-erbA regulation of a different set of target genes.