Two families with polycythemia inherited as an autosomal dominant trait are described. Serial hemoglobin determinations in multiple family members and RBC volume measurements in selected affected subjects documented their polycythemia. Measurements of arterial p02s, p50s, and blood oxygen affinity were normal in all affected individuals from each family who were tested. Erythropoietin (EPO) levels were low in affected individuals from family 1 and normal in affected members of family 2. Stimulation of in vitro CFU-E colony growth by low levels of EPO was significantly increased in subjects from family 1, but normal in those affected from family 2. We conclude that although the inheritance pattern for the polycythemia in both of these families appeared to be the same, the biologic defect leading to the disorder in each of these unique families was different. The precise mechanism of the increased EPO sensitivity noted in affected subjects from family 1 awaits elucidation.