Caspase-3 plays a central role in apoptosis. It is also activated in normal erythropoiesis, with its activity peaking early during development (erythroid colony-forming unit [CFU-E] stage). In the present study, we have reduced the expression and subsequent enzymatic activity of caspase-3 by transfection of small interfering RNA (siRNA) directed to caspase-3 in a differentiating human erythroid culture system. We find that siRNA treatment yields a 50% reduction in cells that undergo enucleation with no change in the fraction of cells that undergo apoptosis, measured throughout the culture. Furthermore, a substantial fraction of treated cells are unable to complete the transition from pronormoblasts to basophilic normoblasts. These results demonstrate that caspase-3 is required for efficient erythropoiesis in this model system.