Oxygen affinity to haemoglobin is indicated by the p50 value (pO2 at 50% O2Hb) and critically determines cellular oxygen availability. Although high Hb-O2 affinity can cause tissue hypoxia under conditions of well O2 saturated blood, individual differences in p50 are commonly not considered in clinical routine. Here, we investigated the diversity in Hb-O2 affinity in the context of physiological relevance. Oxyhaemoglobin dissociation curves (ODCs) of 60 volunteers (18–40 years, both sexes, either endurance trained or untrained) were measured at rest and after maximum exercise (VO2max) test. At rest, p50 values of all participants ranged over 7 mmHg. For comparison, right shift of ODC after VO2max test, representing the maximal physiological range to release oxygen to the tissue, indicated a p50 difference of up to 10 mmHg. P50 at rest differs significantly between women and men, with women showing lower Hb-O2 affinity that is determined by higher 2,3-BPG and BPGM levels. Regular endurance exercise did not alter baseline Hb-O2 affinity. Thus, p50 diversity is already high at baseline level and needs to be considered under conditions of impaired tissue oxygenation. For fast prediction of Hb-O2 affinity by blood gas analysis, only venous but not capillary blood samples can be recommended.