Generation of mature cells from progenitors requires tight coupling of differentiation and metabolism. During erythropoiesis, erythroblasts are required to massively upregulate globin synthesis then clear extraneous material and enucleate to produce erythrocytes1-3. Nprl3 has remained in synteny with the α-globin genes for >500 million years4, and harbours the majority of the α-globin enhancers5. Nprl3 is a highly conserved inhibitor of mTORC1, which controls cellular metabolism. However, whether Nprl3 itself serves an erythroid role is unknown. Here, we show that Nprl3 is a key regulator of erythroid metabolism. Using Nprl3-deficient fetal liver and adult competitive bone marrow - fetal liver chimeras, we show that NprI3 is required for sufficient erythropoiesis. Loss of Nprl3 elevates mTORC1 signalling, suppresses autophagy and disrupts erythroblast glycolysis and redox control. Human CD34+ progenitors lacking NPRL3 produce fewer enucleated cells and demonstrate dysregulated mTORC1 signalling in response to nutrient availability and erythropoietin. Finally, we show that the α-globin enhancers upregulate NprI3 expression, and that this activity is necessary for optimal erythropoiesis. Therefore, the anciently conserved linkage of NprI3, α-globin and their associated enhancers has enabled coupling of metabolic and developmental control in erythroid cells. This may enable erythropoiesis to adapt to fluctuating nutritional and environmental conditions.