We studied the effects of rapamycin on cultures of erythroid progenitors derived from the peripheral blood of 10 beta-thalassaemia patients differing widely with respect to their potential to produce foetal haemoglobin (HbF). For this, we employed the two-phase liquid culture procedure for growing erythroid progenitors, high performance liquid chromatography for analysis of HbF production and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for quantification of the accumulation of globin mRNAs. The results demonstrated that rapamycin induced an increase of HbF in cultures from all the beta-thalassaemia patients studied and an increase of their overall Hb content/cell. The inducing effect of rapamycin was restricted to gamma-globin mRNA accumulation, being only minor for beta-globin and none for alpha-globin mRNAs. The ability of rapamycin to preferentially increase gamma-globin mRNA content and production of HbF in erythroid precursor cells from beta-thalassaemia patients is of great importance as this agent (also known as sirolimus or rapamune) is already in clinical use as an anti-rejection agent following kidney transplantation. These data suggest that rapamycin warrants further evaluation as a potential therapeutic drug in beta-thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia.