The association and dissociation kinetics of ligands binding to proteins vary considerably, but the mechanisms behind this variability are poorly understood, limiting their utilization for drug discovery. This is particularly so for G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) where high resolution structural information is only beginning to emerge. Engineering the human A2A adenosine receptor has allowed structures to be solved in complex with the reference compound ZM241385 and four related ligands at high resolution. Differences between the structures are limited, with the most pronounced being the interaction of each ligand with a salt bridge on the extracellular side of the receptor. Mutagenesis experiments confirm the role of this salt bridge in controlling the dissociation kinetics of the ligands from the receptor, while molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate the ability of ligands to modulate salt bridge stability. These results shed light on a structural determinant of ligand dissociation kinetics and identify a means by which this property may be optimized.