In this study, we investigated the role of the hematopoietic cytokine erythropoietin (EPO) during wound healing, the physiological response to tissue injury. We used an in vivo wound-healing assay (fibrin Z-chambers) consisting of fibrin-filled chambers implanted subcutaneously in rats. The fibrin inside the chambers is replaced by granulation tissue consisting of new blood vessels, macrophages and fibroblasts as part of the wound-healing response. Local, exogenous recombinant EPO administration into the fibrin matrix significantly increased granulation tissue formation in a dose-dependent manner. To investigate the physiological role of endogenous EPO during wound healing, we used soluble EPO receptor or anti-EPO monoclonal antibodies to neutralize EPO and observed dose-dependent inhibition of granulation tissue formation, consistent with an important role for EPO in the wound-healing cascade. The ability of recombinant EPO to promote wound healing was associated with a proangiogenic effect during granulation tissue formation. We also found abundant expression of EPO receptor protein in macrophages, cells that play a pivotal role during wound healing. Modulation of wound healing because of administration of recombinant EPO or inhibition of endogenous EPO-EPO receptor correlated with changes in levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase protein in granulation tissue. These data demonstrate a novel function for EPO by providing in vivo evidence for a physiological role during fibrin-induced wound healing.