Erythropoietin therapy was approved for use as a blood conservation intervention beginning in 1989 for patients with medical anemia and in 1997 for surgical patients. The adoption of this strategy has been rapid in some settings (such as renal failure patients), progressive in others ( eg, cancer patients), and slow in others (surgery patients, for instance). At the same time, the risks of blood transfusion have declined substantially whereas the costs of blood transfusion have increased significantly. The evolution of new techniques such as acute normovolemic hemodilution (ANH) and the novel erythropoiesis-stimulating protein (NESP) bring new options to allogeneic blood transfusion. Erythropoietin therapy, with or without autologous blood procurement, is undergoing new scrutiny as an alternative to blood transfusion. This is not only because of traditional concerns regarding blood risks but because of new blood inventory and cost considerations.