Recent knowledge gained regarding the relationship between erythropoietin, iron, and erythropoiesis in patients with blood loss anemia, with or without recombinant human erythropoietin therapy, has implications for patient management. Under conditions of significant blood loss, erythropoietin therapy, or both, iron-restricted erythropoiesis is evident, even in the presence of storage iron and iron oral supplementation. Intravenous iron therapy in renal dialysis patients undergoing erythropoietin therapy can produce hematologic responses with serum ferritin levels up to 400 microg/L, indicating that traditional biochemical markers of storage iron in patients with anemia caused by chronic disease are unhelpful in the assessment of iron status. Newer measurements of erythrocyte and reticulocyte indices using automated counters show promise in the evaluation of iron-restricted erythropoiesis. Assays for serum erythropoietin and the transferrin receptor are valuable tools for clinical research, but their roles in routine clinical practice remain undefined. The availability of safer intravenous iron preparations allows for carefully controlled studies of their value in patients undergoing erythropoietin therapy or experiencing blood loss, or both.