Pharmacological characterization of adenosine A(1) and A(2A) receptors in human brain caudate nucleus membranes led to non-cooperative binding of radiolabelled ligands. In human caudate nucleus but not in cortex, the agonist binding to A(1) receptors was modulated by the agonist binding to A(2A) receptors indicating a functional negative cross-talk. Accordingly, the A(1) receptor-activation-mediated G(i)-dependent guanosine 5'-o-(3-[(35)S]thio-triphosphate) binding was modulated by agonist binding to A(2A) receptors. A(2A) receptors occupation led to a decrease in the potency of A(1) receptor agonists. These results indicate that A(1) but not A(2A) receptors activation, likely occurring at low adenosine concentrations, engages a G(i)-mediated signaling; however, when both receptors are occupied by adenosine, there is an A(2A) receptor-mediated impairment of G(i)-operated transducing units. These findings are relevant to get insight into the complex relationships derived from co-expression of multiple neurotransmitter/neuromodulator receptors subtypes that individually are coupled to different G proteins. A further finding was the demonstration that the A(2A) receptor agonist, CGS 21680, at high concentrations able to significantly bind to the A(1) receptor, behaved as a partial agonist of the later receptor. This fact might be taken into account when characterizing CGS 21680 actions in human cells expressing A(1) receptors when the compound is used at micromolar concentrations.