Although anemia is common in Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SDS), the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We asked whether SBDS, which is mutated in most SDS patients, is critical for erythroid development. We found that SBDS expression is high early during erythroid differentiation. Inhibition of SBDS in CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells and early progenitors (HSC/Ps) and K562 cells led to slow cell expansion during erythroid differentiation. Induction of erythroid differentiation resulted in markedly accelerated apoptosis in the knockdown cells; however, proliferation was only mildly reduced. The percentage of cells entering differentiation was not reduced.