To clarify the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in erythropoiesis, the expression of miR-155, miR-221, miR-223, and miR-451 were analyzed during the differentiation of purified normal human erythroid progenitors in a liquid culture system. Cells increased almost 500-fold in a number, and differentiated to benzidine-positive mature erythroblasts. Analyses of miRNA expression using the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction showed that the expression level of miR-155 decreased about 200-fold, and that the expression of miR-451 increased about 270-fold during 12 days of cultures. A moderate down-regulation of miR-221 and miR-223 was observed. MiR-451 was expressed in red blood cells about 10(4)-fold more than in granulocytes, obtained from normal human peripheral blood. These observations suggest that miR-155 and miR-451 are key molecules for normal erythroid differentiation, and that quantitative assays of the two miRNAs may be a relevant method for analyzing pathological erythropoiesis.