An understanding of how to safely apply intraoperative blood salvage (IBS) in cancer surgery has not yet been obtained. Here, we investigated the optimal dose of 137Cs gamma-ray irradiation for killing human hepatocarcinoma (HepG2), gastrocarcinoma (SGC7901), and colonic carcinoma (SW620) tumor cells while preserving co-cultured erythrocytes obtained from 14 healthy adult volunteers. HepG2, SGC7901, or SW620 cells were mixed into the aliquots of erythrocytes. After the mixed cells were treated with 137Cs gamma-ray irradiation (30, 50, and 100 Gy), tumor cells and erythrocytes were separated by density gradient centrifugation in Percoll with a density of 1.063 g/ml. The viability, clonogenicity, DNA synthesis, tumorigenicity, and apoptosis of the tumor cells were determined by MTT assay, plate colony formation, 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU) incorporation, subcutaneous xenograft implantation into immunocompromised mice, and annexin V/7-AAD staining, respectively. The ATP concentration, 2,3-DPG level, free Hb concentration, osmotic fragility, membrane phosphatidylserine externalization, blood gas variables, reactive oxygen species levels, and superoxide dismutase levels in erythrocytes were analyzed. We found that 137Cs gamma-ray irradiation at 50 Gy effectively inhibited the viability, proliferation, and tumorigenicity of HepG2, SGC7901, and SW620 cells without markedly damaging the oxygen-carrying ability or membrane integrity or increasing the oxidative stress of erythrocytes in vitro. These results demonstrated that 50 Gy irradiation in a standard 137Cs blood irradiator might be a safe and effective method of inactivating HepG2, SGC7901, and SW620 cells mixed with erythrocytes, which might help to safely allow IBS in cancer surgery.