Pig erythrocytes are unable to metabolize glucose and their physiological energy source is unknown. These cells have a high-capacity nucleoside transport system with similar properties to that responsible for nucleoside transport in other species. Nucleoside transport is sufficiently rapid to allow the possibility that inosine and/or adenosine may represent major energy substrates for pig erythrocytes in vivo. Normal and adenosine deaminase-deficient pig erythrocytes have similar ATP levels, suggesting that adenosine is not important in this respect. However, it was calculated that an extracellular inosine concentration of only 40 nM could support the cells' entire energy requirement, a value 40-fold lower than plasma levels of this nucleoside.