Difference Between Red and Yellow Bone Marrow (With Table)

The yellow and red bone marrow are present as the soft spongy tissues in the centre of the bone. This tissue is semi-solid and is present in birds and mammals. It comprises hematopoietic cells, marrow adipose tissue and stromal cells. 500 billion blood cells a day are produced by the human marrow.

Red Bone Marrow vs Yellow Bone Marrow

The difference between red bone marrow and yellow bone marrow is that the white and red  blood cells are produced by the red bone marrow and the yellow bone marrow works to store fat. Hematopoiesis is a process where the blood is produced by the bone marrow. The red bone marrow helps in that process. The bone marrow not just produces blood but is an important part of the lymphatic system.

The flat bones have red bone marrow present inside them. The bone that is formed as our hips, the bones on our shoulders and ribs have red bone marrow. It is one of the crucial bone marrow of the body. This red bone marrow gets its red colour from haemoglobin. 

Long bones are the places where the yellow bone marrow is usually found. Mainly, it lies in the interior hollow part of the bones. So, what are long bones? The ones that are present in the legs and arms. Also, the age factor determines the conversion of red bone marrow to yellow bone marrow as well. 

Comparison Table Between Red and Yellow Bone Marrow

Parameters of ComparisonRed Bone MarrowYellow Bone Marrow 
Where it is located in It is present in the Hip bones, breast bone, skull, ribs and shoulder bladesIt is present in long bones such as legs and shoulders
What Does It ProduceIt produces Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets It does not produce anything
FunctionsIt produces and develops red and white blood cellsIt saves blood and acts as a reservoir and uses it when required when in emergencies
Other NamesIt is called medulla ossium rubraIt is called ossium Flava
Occurs inSpongy bonesCompact bones

What is Red Bone Marrow?

What is inside these bones that are soft and spongy? They are the red bone marrow present there. It is very vital for our body as it produces blood cells. We have two types of blood cells present which are white and red. These white and red blood cells are produced by the red bone marrow.  At birth, this marrow is primarily red. The spongy bones have red blood marrow and they are present in the bones of the shoulder blade, bones of the spine, ribs and skull.

Hematopoietic stem cells are present in the red bone marrow. These stem cells function in the generation of other blood cells. It produces two other stem cells called Lymphoid and Myeloid stem cells. The red bone marrow releases these blood cells after maturation. These are called white and red blood cells. 

These red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the organs and the lungs. The White blood cells work towards strengthening the immune system and fight viruses and bacteria. According to the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Society, sixty to seventy per cent of the red blood cells are produced by the red bone marrow

What is Yellow Bone Marrow?

Yellow bone marrow is found to be located in the shoulder and leg bones which are long. They function as a reservoir of fat. They not only store fat but also produce red blood cells in case of emergencies as life-threatening situations. During rapid blood loss, this yellow bone marrow supports.

This yellow bone marrow exists in the long bone. It is present inside the interior of those bones. When the body faces extreme situations of severe blood loss and hunger this yellow bone marrow works. At the stage of adolescence, these yellow bone marrow later replaces the red bone marrow. It is present inside the compact bones.

The yellow bone marrow stores fats. These fats present there are called adipocytes. These fats are converted into energy and it is utilized. Most of the adult bodies contain only yellow bone marrow. Just as the red bone marrow has stem cells, even the yellow bone marrow has it. They are called mesenchymal stem cells.

When we are young the red bone marrow stays red and as we grow older in our adolescent period this marrow transforms to yellow bone marrow.

Main Differences Between Red and Yellow Bone Marrow

  1. The red bone marrow is called ossium rubra and the white blood cells are called ossium flava. The red bone marrow is located in the skull, spine, shoulder blades, ribs and sternum. The white blood cells are located in the long bones such as legs and shoulders. 
  2. The bones have a spongy texture inside and the red bone marrow is located there, whereas the white bone marrow is present in the centre of the long bones.
  3. The red bone marrow gets the red colour from haemoglobin and the yellow bone marrow is yellow in colour due to the carotenoids. 
  4. The red bone marrow is present in the younger years and the yellow bone marrow replaces the red bone marrow in the adolescent period.
  5. The red bone marrow is found to be rich in blood supply and the yellow bone marrow is low in blood supply. The red bone marrow produces blood cells and the white bone marrow stores fat.


Bone marrow is very important as it does many vital functions such as producing blood cells and stem cells. These red bone marrows produce platelets that produce blood. The yellow bone marrow stores fat and use it when the body needs it in an emergency. Both these marrow are important in order for a body to function well.

There are several people who have defective bone marrow and cancer. These can be cured with the help of bone marrow donors. A bone marrow donation can be done safely and pain-free.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987707001132
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/169/3942/291.abstract

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