OBJECTIVE To investigate whether preoperative treatment with erythropoietin facilitates the collection of a sufficient amount of autologous blood in a short period of time. METHODS Forty-one women scheduled for radical hysterectomy were randomized to preoperative autologous blood donation with or without preoperative recombinant human erythropoietin therapy. All patients were scheduled to deposit three units of blood within 2 weeks before
surgery. Hemoglobin, erythrocyte volume fraction, blood cells, iron status, and hemolysis were analyzed before and after surgery. RESULTS Hemoglobin levels decreased continuously in both groups after the first autologous donation until day 1 postoperatively. With erythropoietin therapy, the erythrocyte volume fraction and hemoglobin levels were significantly higher during precollection and day 1 after surgery. Preoperatively, the drop was 12 g/L less in the erythropoietin-treated group. The additional use of erythropoietin therapy reduced the inability of patients to predeposit blood from 17.8% to 3.4%. CONCLUSION Most women can predeposit three units of whole blood in only 2 weeks without obtaining severe anemia. By treating women with erythropoietin, one out of seven can be prevented from a hemoglobin level below the 100 g/L limit for donation.