Platinum chemotherapy has been shown to have potent antineoplastic activity against various tumours, especially testicular, bladder, ovarian, head and neck cancers. This activity is accompanied by side-effects of nephrotoxicity and cumulative myelosuppression, the latter frequently presenting as severe anaemia. Cisplatin and carboplatin nephrotoxicity might lower erythropoietin (Epo) secretion and, by this mechanism, contribute to the anaemia that follows therapy with this chemotherapeutic agent. The aim of the present work is to study the plasma immunoerythropoietin and haemoglobin levels of cancer patients treated with platinum or 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy. Plasma was obtained from 25 patients who were about to receive chemotherapy for advanced malignancy: 15 treated with cisplatin or carboplatin and 10 with nonplatinum drugs. Blood was collected on the first day (before drug administration) and around day 15 of every chemotherapy course. Complete blood count, creatinine and immunoreactive Epo levels were also measured in 22 healthy volunteers. An increase in Epo levels occurred following every course of 5-FU or platinum based chemotherapy in patients with steady concentrations of creatinine and decreased levels of haemoglobin (Hb). In particular, we observed an increase after about 15 days of the chemotherapy treatment and the Epo levels declined toward normal just before the following course. This phenomenon was evident in every course. Our results suggest that chemotherapy administration, using the current standards of hydration and forced diuresis, slightly lowered Hb levels but did not depress Epo production, both in 5-FU and in platinum treated subjects.