Erythropoietin (EPO) is a therapeutic product of recombinant DNA technology and it has been in clinical use as stimulator of erythropoiesis over the last two decades. Identification of EPO and its receptor (EPOR) in the cardiovascular system expanded understanding of physiological and pathophysiological role of EPO. In experimental models of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders, EPO exerts protection either by preventing apoptosis of cardiac myocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells, or by increasing endothelial production of nitric oxide. In addition, EPO stimulates mobilization of progenitor cells from bone marrow thereby accelerating repair of injured endothelium and neovascularization. A novel signal transduction pathway involving EPOR-β-common heteroreceptor is postulated to enhance EPO-mediated tissue protection. A better understanding of the role of β-common receptor signaling as well as development of novel analogs of EPO with enhanced nonhematopoietic protective effects may expand clinical application of EPO in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders.