Two independent methods for quantitating reticulocyte counts were compared. One used a modified thiazole orange technique and a flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson FACS); the other was a fully automated whole blood analyser (Sysmex R1000). Both methods gave comparable results with a coefficient of variation of less than 5%. Samples measured using the R1000 showed a negligible decrease in the reticulocyte count over five days at room temperature, although there was evidence of continuing intracellular maturation: with thiazole orange there was an apparent increase. A practical reference range of 20-70 x 10(9)/l was established from 89 normal subjects. The close correlation between the two independent estimates indicates the validity of the quantitation of the reticulocyte count and shows that automation allows significant changes within and below the normal range to be detected with a degree of reliability which was not previously possible.
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