The effect of inflammatory cytokines on the in-vitro synthesis of erythropoietin by HepG2 cells was evaluated. Monocyte-conditioned medium, and the cytokines interleukin-1 beta, interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha all reduced synthesis of erythropoietin. The steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, did not affect cytokine-mediated erythropoietin inhibition. Dexamethasone did cause a reduction in the secretion of erythropoietin inhibitory cytokines from monocytes. These results point to a possible therapeutic approach in the treatment of anaemia caused by suppression of erythropoietin synthesis by monocytic cytokines.