The role of the submandibular salivary gland in erythropoiesis in the male mouse (MRC TO strain) was evaluated by subjecting mice without submandibular salivary glands (SX) and control (C) sham-operated mice to a variety of stimuli intended to stress the erythropoietic system. In SX mice, after removal of the submandibular glands at age 4 weeks and observation for 8 weeks, mean hematocrit was the same as in C mice, but mean body weight was less. Bilateral removal of the submandibular glands at age 6 weeks neither affected the rate of fall and subsequent recovery of hematocrit which followed treatment with phenylhydrazine (80 mg/kg intraperitoneally [i.p.] 9 days after operation) nor altered the rate of increase in hematocrit or change in body weight which occurred during hypobaric hypoxia (0.5 atm, > 23 hours/day) for 23 days. Mean (SEM) estimates of serum immunoreactive erythropoietin after 17 hours' continuous hypobaric (0.5 atm) exposure were not significantly different between SX [186 (30) mU/mL, n = 7] and C mice [232 (17) mU/mL, n = 7]. In mice given bilateral nephrectomies at age 6 weeks--2 weeks after SX or C surgery--and then both treated with phenylhydrazine (60 mg/kg i.p.) and exposed for 17 hours to hypobaric (0.5 atm) hypoxia, mean estimates of serum immunoreactive erythropoietin were 22.6 (10.6) mU/mL and 22.3 (5.4) mU/mL in SX (n = 5) and C (n = 5) mice. Results of the study do not support the premise that the submandibular salivary glands either contribute to the erythropoietic response or are a source of extrarenal erythropoietin.