Cancer patients receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy often become anaemic and may require blood transfusions. A large-scale audit of patients with a variety of solid tumours receiving chemotherapy at 28 specialist centres throughout the UK was undertaken to quantify the problem. Data were available from 2719 patients receiving 3206 courses of cytotoxic chemotherapy for tumours of the breast (878), ovary (856), lung (772) or testis (213). Their mean age was 55 years (range 16-87). Overall, 33% of patients required at least one blood transfusion but the proportion varied from 19% for breast cancer to 43% for lung. Sixteen per cent of patients required more than one transfusion (7% for breast, 22% in lung). The mean proportion of patients with Hb < 11 g dl(-10 rose over the course of chemotherapy from 17% before the first cycle, to 38% by the sixth, despite transfusion in 33% of patients. Of the patients receiving transfusions, 25% required an inpatient admission and overnight stay. The most common symptoms reported at the time of transfusion were lethargy, tiredness and breathlessness. Further research is needed to evaluate the role of blood transfusions in patients receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy.