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Summary. The effect of pure erythropoietin (EP) on human marrow day 15 burst-forming units-erythroid (BFU-E) was studied using a short-term liquid culture system containing 30% human serum. Non-adherent marrow cells were cultured in liquid medium for 0–48 h and then the number of BFU-E was assayed by the use of the plasma clot method. The addition of 1 U/ml of EP into the liquid culture medium resulted in maintenance of the number of BFU-E assayed after 24–48 h of incubation. The number of BFU-E recovered after 24–48 h culture was directly proportional to the concentration of EP present in the liquid medium. In addition, the proliferative status of BFU-E before and after exposure to EP was studied by 3H-thymidine and hydroxyurea suicide. It was found that EP doubles the percentage of BFU-E in DNA synthesis after 24–48 h of incubation in the liquid medium. This effect of EP on DNA synthesis by bone marrow day 15 BFU-E is detectable as early as 6 h after the onset of incubation and at EP concentrations as low as 0.2 U/ml of medium, a concentration present in the serum of moderately anaemic patients. The human marrow day 15 BFU-E is an EP-responsive cell and pure EP can induce it into DNA synthesis.