The effects of standard adenosine receptor (AR) agonists and antagonists on the proliferation of human T lymphocytes, unstimulated and phytohemagglutinin-stimulated human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), and Jurkat T cells were investigated. Real-time PCR measurements confirmed the presence of all four AR subtypes on the investigated cells, although at different expression levels. A2A ARs were predominantly expressed in PBL and further upregulated upon stimulation, while malignant Jurkat T cells showed high expression levels of A1, A2A, and A2B ARs. Cell proliferation was measured by [(3)H]-thymidine incorporation assays. Several ligands, including the subtype-selective agonists CPA (A1), BAY60-6583 (A2B), and IB-MECA (A3), and the antagonists PSB-36 (A1), MSX-2 (A2A), and PSB-10 (A3) significantly inhibited cell proliferation at micromolar concentrations, which were about three orders of magnitude higher than their AR affinities. In contrast, further investigated AR ligands, including the agonists NECA (nonselective) and CGS21680 (A2A), and the antagonists preladenant (SCH-420814, A2A), PSB-1115 (A2B), and PSB-603 (A2B) showed no or only minor effects on lymphocyte proliferation. The anti-proliferative effects of the AR agonists could not be blocked by the corresponding antagonists. The non-selective AR antagonist caffeine stimulated phytohemagglutinin-activated PBL with an EC50 value of 104 μM. This is the first study to compare a complete set of commonly used AR ligands for all subtypes on lymphocyte proliferation. Our results strongly suggest that these compounds induce an inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation and cell death through AR-independent mechanisms.