5 mL blood in lithium heparin or EDTA tube.


Immunoassay or functional assay.

Reference Interval:Method dependent; approximately 3-16 mIU/L.

Occasionally indicated in the differentiation of primary and secondary erythrocytosis, when this is not clear from clinical and other laboratory parameters.

May be used to monitor erythropoietin therapy in chronic renal failure.


Low in Polycythaemia vera and elevated in secondary erythrocytosis.

Erythropoietin (serum) may assist in the diagnosis of Polycythaemia vera.

Levels are usually increased in anaemia, but relatively decreased in the anaemia of chronic renal failure.


Coles PM et al. N Engl J Med 1986; 315: 283-287.

Erslev AJ et al. Eur J Haematol 1989; 43: 367-373.

Swerdlow SH et al. (editors). WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues 2008, 4th Ed. Lyon: IARC.