This study aimed at the development of 2-(N'-aralkylidenehydrazino)adenosines as coronary vasodilators. The reaction of aromatic aldehydes or ketones with 2-hydrazinoadenosine in refluxing methanol formed the target compounds 2-27 as crystalline products in good yields. Two kinds of receptors mediate the actions of adenosine on the heart. Retardation of impulse conduction through the atrioventricular node, the negative dromotropic action, is an example of adenosine's action at an A1 receptor (A1AR) and coronary vasodilation reflects adenosine's action at an A2 receptor (A2AR). Accordingly, bioassays employing guinea pig heart Langendorff preparations assessed the selectivity of 2-27 as coronary vasodilators. Analogues 2-27 were weak negative dromotropic agents; the EC50 of the most active analogue, 2-[N'-(1-naphthylmethylene)hydrazino]-adenosine, 23, was 0.8 microM, several orders of magnitude less than many A1AR agonists. Some of the analogues were quite active coronary vasodilators; 2-(N'-benzylidenehydrazino)adenosine, 2, and several of its para-substituted derivatives, namely, the fluoro (7), methyl (13), methoxy (16), and tert-butylcarbonylethyl, 31, had EC50s for coronary vasodilation in the range 1.7-3.2 nM. The selectivity ratios, EC50 (negative dromotropic)/EC50 (coronary vasodilatory), of these five analogues ranged between 5100 (analogue 31) and 43,000 (analogue 2). Phenyl ring substitutions of other kinds or at other positions, replacement of the phenyl ring by other aryl or heteroaryl groups, or the replacement of the benzylic H by a methyl group lowered coronary vasoactivity significantly. The unselective adenosine receptor antagonist 8-(p-sulfophenyl)theophylline raised the EC50 of the negative dromotropic activities of 2, 16, and 2-[N'-(2-naphthylmethylene)hydrazino]adenosine, 24, by 3-, 18-, and 7-fold, and raised the EC50s of coronary vasoactivity by 11-, 3-, and 30-fold, respectively evidence that vasoactivity was receptor-mediated.