While most common symptom of impairment of iron homeostasis is iron deficiency anemia, some hematological disorders are associated with iron overload (IO). These disorders are related mainly to chronic severe hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells (RBC) or their precursors are destroyed prematurely (hemolyzed), leading to anemia that cannot be compensated by increased production of new RBC. In such cases, IO is mainly due to repeated RBC transfusions and/or increased uptake of iron in the gastrointestinal tract. Normally, iron is present in the plasma and in the cells bound to compounds that render it redox inactive. Iron overload leaves a fraction of the iron free (labile iron pool) and redox active, leading to the generation of excess free radicals such as the reactive oxygen species. This condition upsets the cellular redox balance between oxidants and antioxidants, leading to oxidative stress. The free radicals bind to various cellular components, thereby becoming toxic to vital organs. Oxidative stress may also affect blood cells, such as RBC, platelets and neutrophils, exacerbating the anemia, and causing recurrent infections and thrombotic events, respectively. The toxic effect of IO can be decreased by treating the patients with iron chelators that enter cells, bind free iron and remove it from the body through the urine and feces. Iron toxicity may be also ameliorated by treatment with anti-oxidants that scavenge free radicals and/or correct their damage. The use of iron chelators is widely accepted when started in young patients with severe chronic anemia, but is still debatable as a therapeutic modality for older patients suffering from IO due to myelodysplastic syndromes. It should be noted that in addition to preventing iron toxicity, some compounds with iron chelator activity may also benefit other aspects of hematological disorders. These aspects include stimulation of platelet production, inhibition of leukemic cell proliferation and induction of their differentiation. Compounds with such multiple activities may prove beneficial for at least some patients with leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.