To clarify the control mechanism of production of erythropoietic growth factors in anemic states, we compared erythropoietin (Epo) and burst-promoting activity (BPA) in patients with aplastic anemia and iron deficiency anemia, using in vitro erythroid progenitor assays. Although serum levels of Epo activity increased in the presence of anemia, the rise was more marked in patients with aplastic anemia. BPA was high only in the sera of aplastic anemia patients. Serum levels of BPA of patients with aplastic anemia negatively correlated with hemoglobin concentrations, while those of patients with iron deficiency anemia did not correlate. In 2 patients with aplastic anemia who responded well to androgen therapy, serum levels of Epo activity and BPA decreased after the hemopoiesis had recovered. These results suggest that serum levels of BPA do not rise in response to anemia only. The elevated BPA levels in sera in cases of aplastic anemia are probably related to a reduction in the number of hemopoietic stem cells. Moreover, we observed that BPA in bone-marrow-conditioned medium (BMCM) from patients with severe aplastic anemia increased more than in the BMCM from patients with severe iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, our findings suggest that the enchanced BPA production depends on a decrease in hemopoietic precursors rather than the anemic state.