Blood cell that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues. Hemoglobin gives the cell—and whole blood—its colour. Red cells are small, round, flexible, and concave on both sides and lack a nucleus. They develop continuously in bone marrow in several stages and are stored in the spleen. The mature form lives 100–120 days. Adult human blood has about 5.2 million red cells per cu mm. Some conditions change their shape (e.g., pernicious anemia, sickle-cell anemia) or number (e.g., anemia, polycythemia).
Learn more about erythrocyte with a free trial on Britannica.com.