The quality of life was assessed in 37 maintenance hemodialysis patients during treatment with recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO; EPOGEN [epoetin alfa], AMGEN Inc, Thousand Oaks, CA) for correction of anemia. All patients experienced an increase in hematocrit level. The mean hematocrit level in the study population was 19.8% before therapy and 31.5% after therapy. Eighty-four percent of patients reported an increase in their sense of well-being. Better appetite was subjectively noted by 81% of patients. Improvements in sexual function (62%), socializing (70%), sleep (68%), and skin color (51%) were also noted. An increase in exercise capacity was reported by 78% of patients; objective measurements showed that the mean value of VO2max in a subgroup of 11 patients increased by 50% after treatment. The Karnofsky score calculated in 29 patients showed improvement in all patients except those aged greater than 70 years. The group mean Karnofsky score increased from 76 before to 86.6 after therapy, indicating that with r-HuEPO treatment subjects were able to exert themselves to perform ordinary activities. Before therapy 14 of the patients were unemployed; after therapy only two did not work. Those side effects that occurred, predominantly iron deficiencies, hypertension, and hyperkalemia, were controlled by appropriate clinical management. Treatment with r-HuEPO does improve the quality of life and ability to work of uremic patients and does not adversely affect their transplant potential.