Identifying potent drug combination from a herbal mixture is usually quite challenging, due to a large number of possible trials. Using an engineering approach of the feedback system control (FSC) scheme, we identified the potential best combinations of four flavonoids, including formononetin, ononin, calycosin, and calycosin-7-O-β-D-glucoside deriving from Astragali Radix (AR; Huangqi), which provided the best biological action at minimal doses. Out of more than one thousand possible combinations, only tens of trials were required to optimize the flavonoid combinations that stimulated a maximal transcriptional activity of hypoxia response element (HRE), a critical regulator for erythropoietin (EPO) transcription, in cultured human embryonic kidney fibroblast (HEK293T). By using FSC scheme, 90% of the work and time can be saved, and the optimized flavonoid combinations increased the HRE mediated transcriptional activity by 3-fold as compared with individual flavonoid, while the amount of flavonoids was reduced by 10-fold. Our study suggests that the optimized combination of flavonoids may have strong effect in activating the regulatory element of erythropoietin at very low dosage, which may be used as new source of natural hematopoietic agent. The present work also indicates that the FSC scheme is able to serve as an efficient and model-free approach to optimize the drug combination of different ingredients within a herbal decoction. © 2013 Hui Yu et al.