The long-term cardiorespiratory effects of recombinant human erythropoietin treatment were investigated in ten haemodialysis patients by means of maximum exercise testing, lung function tests, echocardiography, chest X-ray, and rheological assessment over 12 months. There were significant rises in exercise time (mean [SD] 13.2 [5.5] to 20.0 [6.2] min), maximum oxygen consumption (19.1 [7.0] to 25.0 [6.7] ml.min-1.kg-1), and anaerobic threshold (11.7 [3.6] to 15.4 [4.8] ml.min-1.kg-1) after 2 months of erythropoietin treatment. The improvements were maintained but not augmented on repeat testing after 4, 8, and 12 months of therapy. Carbon monoxide transfer [corrected] rose from 15.5 (2.9) to 18.6 (3.7) ml.min-1.mm Hg-1. There was a substantial reduction in exercise-induced cardiac ischaemia (eight patients had significant ST segment depression before erythropoietin, only one after 2 months' treatment, and none after 12 months' treatment), despite a significant rise in whole blood viscosity. Left ventricular mass, as estimated by echocardiography, progressively decreased from 354 (169) g to 251 (95) g after 12 months' treatment, and four patients showed a reduction in cardiothoracic ratio on chest X-ray.