We examined the efficacy of low-dose erythropoietin in the management of chemotherapy-related anaemia in patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC). We gave recombinant human erythropoietin A (rHuEPO) to 63 SCLC patients, 30 with limited disease (LD) and 33 with extensive disease (ED) who underwent chemotherapy with carboplatin, etoposide and ifosfamide and had previously received blood transfusions for chemotherapy-related anaemia. rHuEPO was given at a dose of 2000 IU subcutaneously three times per week for 2 weeks after every chemotherapy cycle, starting 48 h after the end of chemotherapy. Before the use of rHuEPO, all patients in both groups had to be transfused after a mean of 5.5 CT cycles. In 64 CT cycles following administration of rHuEPO, only 5/30 LD patients (17%) had to be transfused in six cycles (9%). In 88 cycles following the use of rHuEPO, 7/33 ED patients (21%) had to be transfused in 11 cycles (12.5%). Haemoglobin values in patients with ED (but not those with LD) were significantly improved after rHuEPO administration on both day 14 and day 28 after chemotherapy. No adverse effects were recorded. rHuEPO considerably decreased the degree of anaemia and the need for blood transfusion at doses markedly lower (25-30 IU/kg body weight) than those reported in the literature so far (150 IU/kg body weight), without toxicity.