AbstractEffects of radiographic contrast media (RCM) application were demonstrated in vitro and in vivo where the injection of RCM into the A. axillaris of patients with coronary artery disease was followed by a significant and RCM-dependent decrease of erythrocyte velocity in downstream skin capillaries. Another study in pigs revealed that the deceleration of erythrocytes coincided with a significant reduction of the oxygen partial pressure in the myocardium—supplied by the left coronary artery—after the administration of RCM into this artery. Further reports showed RCM dependent alterations of erythrocytes like echinocyte formation and exocytosis, sequestration of actin or band 3 and the buckling of endothelial cells coinciding with a formation of interendothelial fenestrations leading to areas devoid of endothelial cells. Key to morphological alterations of erythrocytes is the membrane cytoskeleton, which is linked to the band 3 in the erythrocyte membrane via the junctional complex. Fundamental observations regarding the cell biological and biochemical aspects of the structure and function of the cell membrane and the membrane cytoskeleton of erythrocytes have been reported. This review focuses on recent results gained, e.g., by advanced confocal laser scanning microscopy of different double-stained structural elements of the erythrocyte membrane cytoskeleton.