d-Propranolol eliminates the increased adenine nucleoside release from hypoperfused hearts [R. D. Wangler, D. F. DeWitt, and H. V. Sparks, Am. J. Physiol. 247 (Heart Circ. Physiol. 16): H330-H336, 1984]. To determine whether d-propranolol reduces adenosine formation or adenosine release into the vascular compartment, we measured myocardial tissue adenosine (TADO). Decreased formation would lower TADO, whereas decreased release would elevate TADO. Reduction of perfusion pressure by 50% reduced coronary flow (CF), venous oxygen tension (PVO2), and myocardial oxygen consumption (MVO2) by approximately 40, 25, and 35%, respectively. Total adenosine and inosine released during 30 min of hypoperfusion increased 10- and 5-fold, respectively. Also, TADO increased from 2.68 +/- 0.37 to 5.17 +/- 0.67 nmol/g (P less than 0.05). In the presence of d-propranolol, the same reduction in perfusion pressure caused a similar decrease in CF and MVO2. d-Propranolol eliminated the release of adenosine and inosine associated with hypoperfusion. TADO after 30 min of hypoperfusion plus d-propranolol was not significantly increased (3.27 +/- 0.40 nmol/g) and was significantly less than hypoperfused hearts. When severe hypoperfusion was created by reducing perfusion pressure 75%, adenosine release still did not increase if d-propranolol was present. When adenosine release was plotted as a function of oxygen supply-consumption, they were related in a hyperbolic fashion. Despite the severity of hypoperfusion, in the presence of d-propranolol the supply-to-consumption ratio was similar to that of the control perfusion group (no drug). We conclude that d-propranolol blocks nucleoside formation during hypoperfusion by reducing oxygen demand such that a reduction of oxygen supply no longer stimulates adenosine formation.