Heme oxygenase-1 is critical for iron recycling during red blood cell turnover, whereas its impact on steady-state erythropoiesis and red blood cell lifespan is not known. We show here that in 8- to 14-week old mice, heme oxygenase- 1 deficiency adversely affects steady-state erythropoiesis in the bone marrow. This is manifested by a decrease in Ter-119+-erythroid cells, abnormal adhesion molecule expression on macrophages and erythroid cells, and a greatly diminished ability to form erythroblastic islands. Compared with wild-type animals, red blood cell size and hemoglobin content are decreased, while the number of circulating red blood cells is increased in heme oxygenase-1 deficient mice, overall leading to microcytic anemia. Heme oxygenase-1 deficiency increases oxidative stress in circulating red blood cells and greatly decreases the frequency of macrophages expressing the phosphatidylserine receptor Tim4 in bone marrow, spleen and liver. Heme oxygenase-1 deficiency increases spleen weight and Ter119+-erythroid cells in the spleen, although α4β1-integrin expression by these cells and splenic macrophages positive for vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 are both decreased. Red blood cell lifespan is prolonged in heme oxygenase-1 deficient mice compared with wild-type mice. Our findings suggest that while macrophages and relevant receptors required for red blood cell formation and removal are substantially depleted in heme oxygenase- 1 deficient mice, the extent of anemia in these mice may be ameliorated by the prolonged lifespan of their oxidatively stressed erythrocytes.