Adenosine is released from metabolically active cells by facilitated diffusion, and is generated extracellularly by degradation of released ATP. It is a potent biological mediator that modulates the activity of numerous cell types, including various neuronal populations, platelets, neutrophils and mast cells, and smooth muscle cells in bronchi and vasculature. Most of these effects help to protect cells and tissues during stress conditions such as ischaemia. Adenosine mediates its effects through four receptor subtypes: the A1, A2a, A2b and A3 receptors. The A2a receptor (A2aR) is abundant in basal ganglia, vasculature and platelets, and stimulates adenylyl cyclase. It is a major target of caffeine, the most widely used psychoactive drug. Here we investigate the role of the A2a receptor by disrupting the gene in mice. We found that A2aR-knockout (A2aR-/-) mice were viable and bred normally. Their exploratory activity was reduced, whereas caffeine, which normally stimulates exploratory behaviour, became a depressant of exploratory activity. Knockout animals scored higher in anxiety tests, and male mice were much more aggressive towards intruders. The response of A2aR-/- mice to acute pain stimuli was slower. Blood pressure and heart rate were increased, as well as platelet aggregation. The specific A2a agonist CGS 21680 lost its biological activity in all systems tested.