The assay of residual adenosine deaminase (ADA) activity was used as a sensitive measure of the transport of deoxycoformycin (dCF) into human erythrocytes. Contrary to prior reports from this laboratory, the inactivation of intraerythrocytic ADA by dCF was linear rather than log-linear, with time. Linear inactivation rates were also seen when erythrocytes were preloaded with a 5-fold excess of calf intestinal ADA. The uptake of tritium-labeled dCF molecules and the rate of inactivation of ADA molecules showed an approximate 1:1 stoichiometry. The nucleoside transport inhibitors, 6-[(4-nitrobenzyl)thio]-9-beta-D-ribofuranosylpurine (NBMPR) and dipyridamole, and the permeant, uridine, inhibited dCF transport with Ki values of 35 nM, 45 nM, and 340 microM respectively. The affinity of dCF for the nucleoside transporter was low with a Ki of approximately 10 mM for the inhibition of adenosine influx.