AIM: To investigate whether spectrin can be used as an immunohistochemical marker for erythroid precursors in routinely processed paraffin embedded bone marrow sections. METHODS: Bone marrow biopsies and clot sections were stained with rabbit antihuman erythrocyte spectrin antibodies, specific for erythroid cells as shown by western blotting and bone marrow smears, and compared to sections stained with antiglycophorin monoclonal antibodies (JC159 and Ret49f). RESULTS: Antispectrin antibodies resulted in diffuse cytoplasmic staining of early erythroblasts and membranous staining of late erythroblasts as well as erythrocytes. In haematopathological samples, immature erythroid cell clusters were clearly identified. In contrast, antiglycophorin monoclonal antibodies resulted in only membranous staining of late erythroblasts, and faint staining of early erythroblasts. CONCLUSIONS: Spectrin may be a superior marker to glycophorin for the identification of erythroid precursors in paraffin embedded sections.