Despite the continuous efforts to increase the safety of blood components, red blood cell transfusions remain associated with some risks and side effects. Therefore, numerous techniques have been developed to decrease blood use, but they also carry risks and bear costs. Most of them are frequently used in cardiac surgery, which still consumes a large part of the available blood supply. Among western countries the use of alternative techniques, but also transfusion practice, has been shown to vary markedly. ‘Blood conservation’ is a global concept engulfing all possible strategies aimed at reducing patients' exposure to allogeneic blood components. The development of the ‘best strategy’ consists of the selection of those techniques that are most appropriate to the local specific situation. It implies the establishment of a reliable system, collecting data both at the surgical team and at the medical level.