Zinc is essential for normal erythroid cell functions and therefore intracellular zinc homeostasis during erythroid differentiation is tightly regulated. However, a characterization of zinc transporters in erythrocytes has not been conducted. The membrane fraction of mature mouse RBC was screened for zinc transporter expression using western analysis as a first step in the characterization process. ZnT1, Zip8, and Zip10 were detected among the 12 transporter proteins tested. We examined expression of these zinc transporters during erythropoietin (EPO)-induced differentiation of splenic erythroid progenitor cells into reticulocytes. Both Zip8 and Zip10 mRNA increased by 2-6 h after addition of EPO to the cells. In contrast, maximal RNA levels for the zinc transporter ZnT1 and erythroid δ-aminolevulinic acid synthase were only produced by 24 h after EPO. We confirmed these changes in transcript abundance by western analysis. Dietary zinc status influences zinc-dependent functions of RBC. To determine whether the identified zinc transporters respond to dietary zinc status, mice were fed a zinc-deficient or control diet. Incorporation of 65Zn into erythrocytes in vitro was significantly increased in cells from the zinc-deficient mice. Western analysis and densitometry revealed that erythrocyte Zip10 was upregulated and ZnT1 was downregulated in the zinc-depleted mice. Zip8 was not affected by restricted zinc intake. Collectively, these data suggest that the zinc transporters ZnT1, Zip8, and Zip10 are important for zinc homeostasis in erythrocytes and that ZnT1 and Zip10 respond to the dietary zinc supply.