summary. The high prevalence of numerous endemic and epidemic diseases such as malaria, HIV infection and viral hepatitis in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) affects the health status of blood donors. Considering the difficulties in ensuring sufficient and safe blood supply, analysing epidemiological factors that impact blood donors in this community may further bring light on issues of supply and safety, and help in planning for its rational use. This review does not aim to propose new strategies but describes the main characteristics of blood donors in SSA as collected from different reports. Data were mainly obtained from the reports of the World Health Organization and national blood transfusion programmes and also from relevant literature and conference reports. Several characteristics are common in blood donors, such as the predominance of young adult males, the high frequency of Transmission-transmitted Infections (TTIs) and some erythrocytic phenotypes. The data indicate variations in the level of improvement of blood collection and blood safety from one area to another, particularly in the field of donor motivation or screening strategies for TTIs. These data could be useful to supplement previous reports and to provide updates for governments and international organizations' programs involved in the improvement of blood safety in Africa.