OBJECTIVE: To determine the safety and pharmacokinetics of erythropoietin (Epo) given in conjunction with hypothermia for hypoxicischemic encephalopathy (HIE). We hypothesized that high dose Epo would produce plasma concentrations that are neuroprotective in animal studies (ie, maximum concentration = 6000-10 000 U/L; area under the curve = 117 000-140 000 U*h/L). METHODS: In this multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation, phase I study, we enrolled 24 newborns undergoing hypothermia for HIE. All patients had decreased consciousness and acidosis (pH < 7.00 or base deficit ≥ 12), 10-minute Apgar score ≤ 5, or ongoing resuscitation at 10 minutes. Patients received 1 of 4 Epo doses intravenously: 250 (N = 3), 500 (N = 6), 1000 (N = 7), or 2500 U/kg per dose (N = 8). We gave up to 6 doses every 48 hours starting at <24 hours of age and performed pharmacokinetic and safety analyses. RESULTS: Patients received mean 4.8 6 1.2 Epo doses. Although Epo followed nonlinear pharmacokinetics, excessive accumulation did not occur during multiple dosing. At 500, 1000, and 2500 U/kg Epo, half-life was 7.2, 15.0, and 18.7 hours; maximum concentration was 7046, 13 780, and 33 316 U/L, and total Epo exposure (area under the curve) was 50 306, 131 054, and 328 002 U*h/L, respectively. Drug clearance at a given dose was slower than reported in uncooled preterm infants. No deaths or serious adverse effects were seen. CONCLUSIONS: Epo 1000 U/kg per dose intravenously given in conjunction with hypothermia is well tolerated and produces plasma concentrations that are neuroprotective in animals. A large efficacy trial is needed to determine whether Epo add-on therapy further improves outcome in infants undergoing hypothermia for HIE. Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.