Background: Infants with extremely low birth weight uniformly develop anemia of prematurity and frequently require red blood cell transfusions (RBCTs). Although RBCT is widely practiced, the indications remain controversial in the absence of conclusive data on the long-term effects of RBCT. Objectives: To summarize the current equipoise and to outline the study protocol of the 'Effects of Transfusion Thresholds on Neurocognitive Outcome of extremely low birth-weight infants (ETTNO)' study. Methods: Review of the literature and design of a large pragmatic randomized controlled trial of restrictive versus liberal RBCT guidelines enrolling 920 infants with birth weights of 400-999 g with long-term neurodevelopmental follow-up. Results and Conclusions: The results of ETTNO will provide definite data about the efficacy and safety of restrictive versus liberal RBCT guidelines in very preterm infants.