Erythropoietin (EPO) is the major regulator of erythropoiesis. EPO’s actions have been shown to be antiapoptotic and dependent on JAK2 signaling and Akt phosphorylation. These effects serve as link between EPO and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). HO-1 is an inducible enzyme with potent antioxidant and antiapoptotic activities which are regulated by Akt signaling. EPO’s ability to alter cellular systems that involve apoptosis and oxidants suggests that EPO treatments are likely to have multiple and different effects which may start a good news/bad news story. Recombinant human EPO is the recognized treatment of choice to address anemia and to stimulate erythropoiesis in chronic renal failure patients, through its antiapoptotic action which likely involves HO-1. On the other hand, EPO treatment to address anemia in cancer patients, while providing significant improvements in cancer patients’ quality of life, its effects on survival are equivocal, likely due to its linkage with HO-1. Two clinical trials of EPO in patients with solid tumors have, in fact, shown specific negative effects on survival. However, EPO’s effect on tumor growth and survival is not uniformily pro growth and pro survival, as EPO may act synergistically with chemotherapy to induce apoptosis. Finally, compounds have been synthesized that do not trigger EPO receptor and thus may allow experimental distinction and, therefore, at least potentially affect at the clinical level the tissue-protective effects of EPO (e.g., antiapoptosis) without provoking its other potentially detrimental effects.