Prion infections lead to invariably fatal diseases of the CNS, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and scrapie in sheep. There have been hundreds of instances in which prions have been transmitted iatrogenically among humans, usually through neurosurgical procedures or administration of pituitary tissue extracts. Prions have not generally been regarded as blood-borne infectious agents, and case-control studies have failed to identify CJD in transfusion recipients. Previous understanding was, however, questioned by reports of prion infections in three recipients of blood donated by individuals who subsequently developed variant CJD. On reflection, hematogenic prion transmission does not come as a surprise, as involvement of extracerebral compartments such as lymphoid organs and skeletal muscle is common in most prion infections, and prions have been recovered from the blood of rodents and sheep. Novel diagnostic strategies, which might include the use of surrogate markers of prion infection, along with prion removal strategies, might help to control the risk of iatrogenic prion spread through blood transfusions.