The adenosine analogs [5'-N-ethylcarboxamideadenosine (NECA), 2-Chloro-adenosine (2-ClA), R-phenylisopropyladenosine (R-PIA), N6-cyclohexyl adenosine (CHA), and N6-cyclopentyladenosine (CPA)] produced both relaxation and contraction responses in isolated guinea-pig trachea. A concentration-related relaxation response was observed in trachea which were precontracted with either histamine or KC1. This response followed an order of analog potency that was indicative of the A2 receptor subtype (NECA greater than 2-ClA greater than R-PIA greater than CPA greater than CHA). Theophylline, an adenosine-receptor antagonist, blocked this relaxation response. In addition, a concentration-related contractile response was produced with adenosine analogs in those trachea that were not previously contracted. In contrast, the contractile response followed an analog potency indicative of the A1 receptor subtype (R-PIA greater than 2-ClA = CPA = CHA). This contractile response was not mediated by cholinergic, adrenergic or histaminergic receptors. 2-ClA induced a biphasic response, while NECA only relaxed these tissue under basal tone. Unlike the relaxation response, these contractile responses were not attenuated by theophylline, but were blocked by 1,3 dipropyl-8-(2 amino-4-chlorophenyl)xanthine (PACPX). These findings confirm the existence of two subpopulations of adenosine receptors in guinea pig trachealis muscle.