The purine adenosine is an extracellular signalling molecule involved in a large number of physiological and pathological conditions throughout the mammalian brain. However little is known about how adenosine release and its subsequent clearance change during brain development. We have combined electrophysiology and microelectrode biosensor measurements to investigate the properties of adenosine signalling at early stages of cerebellar development, when parallel fibre-Purkinje cell synapses have recently been formed (postnatal days 9-12). At this stage of development, we could detect little or no inhibitory A(1) receptor tone in basal conditions and during trains of stimuli. Addition of pharmacological agents, to inhibit adenosine clearance, had only minor effects on synaptic transmission suggesting that under basal conditions, the concentration of adenosine moving in and out of the extracellular space is small. Active adenosine release was stimulated with hypoxia and trains of electrical stimuli. Although hypoxia released significant concentrations of adenosine, the release was delayed and slow. No adenosine release could be detected following electrical stimulation in the molecular layer. In conclusion, at this stage of development, although adenosine receptors and the mechanisms of adenosine clearance are present there is very little adenosine release.