Apoptosis plays a central role in the regulation of the size of the hematopoietic stem cell pool as well as in the processes of cell differentiation along the various hematopoietic lineages. TRAIL is a member of the TNF family of cytokines with a known apoptogenic role against a variety of malignant cells and an emerging role in the modulation of normal hematopoiesis. Here we worked on the hypothesis that PKCepsilon could act as a switch of the cellular response to TRAIL during erythropoiesis. We demonstrate that EPO-induced erythroid CD34 cells are insensitive to the apoptogenic effect of TRAIL at day 0 due to the lack of specific receptor expression. From day 3 onward, erythroid cells express surface death receptors and become sensitive to TRAIL up to day 7/8 when, notwithstanding death-receptor expression, the EPO-driven up-regulation of PKCepsilon intracellular levels renders differentiating erythroid cells resistant to TRAIL likely via Bcl-2 up-regulation. Our conclusion is that in human CD34 cells, EPO promotes a series of events that, being finely regulated in their kinetics, restricts the sensitivity of these cells to TRAIL to a specific period of time, which therefore represents the "TRAIL window" for the negative regulation of erythroid-cell numbers.