In vitro studies have implicated the Lyn tyrosine kinase in erythropoietin signaling. In this study, we show that J2E erythroid cells lacking Lyn have impaired signaling and reduced levels of transcription factors STAT5a, EKLF and GATA-1. Since mice lacking STAT5, EKLF or GATA-1 have red cell abnormalities, this study also examined the erythroid compartment of Lyn(-/-) mice. Significantly, STAT5, EKLF and GATA-1 levels were appreciably lower in Lyn(-/-) erythroblasts, and the phenotype of Lyn(-/-) animals was remarkably similar to GATA-1(low) animals. Although young adult Lyn-deficient mice had normal hematocrits, older mice developed anemia. Grossly enlarged erythroblasts and florid erythrophagocytosis were detected in the bone marrow of mice lacking Lyn. Markedly elevated erythroid progenitors and precursor levels were observed in the spleens, but not bone marrow, of Lyn(-/-) animals indicating that extramedullary erythropoiesis was occurring. These data indicate that Lyn(-/-) mice display extramedullary stress erythropoiesis to compensate for intrinsic and extrinsic erythroid defects.