The treatment of severe anemia related to end-stage renal disease with recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO; EPOGEN, [epoetin alfa] AMGEN Inc, Thousand Oaks, CA) has been investigated in more than 1,500 hemodialysis patients worldwide. The goal of r-HuEPO therapy is to maintain the hematocrit level at 35%, with a recommended starting dose of 150 mg/kg of body weight, administered intravenously after each dialysis three times a week for 6 to 12 weeks. Hematocrit levels should be measured at least once a week and the dose adjusted in increments or decrements of 10 mg/kg to 25 mg/kg to keep the hematocrit level between 33% and 40%. Patients receiving r-HuEPO must be normotensive. A history of seizures has been cause for exclusion from clinical trials. Patients' iron status should also be adequate at the onset of therapy, which is defined as a serum ferritin level of 100 ng/mL or more, and a transferrin saturation of more than 20%. Iron status and BP must be carefully monitored, and abnormalities corrected with iron supplementation, ultrafiltration, or antihypertensive medication. The lack of controlled studies makes determination of the actual incidence of side effects difficult, but it appears to be minimal. Possible side effects of r-HuEPO therapy include hypertension, seizures, myalgia, malaise, headache, gastrointestinal distress, and injected conjunctiva. The major benefits of r-HuEPO therapy are reduced need for transfusion and marked improvement in quality-of-life parameters.