The antiasthmatic drug enprofylline was the first known selective, though not potent, A(2B) antagonist. On the basis of structure-activity relationships (SARs) of xanthine derivatives, we designed a novel selective adenosine A(2B) receptor antagonist, 3-isobutyl-8-pyrrolidinoxanthine (IPDX), with potency greater than that of enprofylline. IPDX displaced [3H]ZM241385 ([3H]4-(2-[7-amino-2-(2-furyl)[1,2,4]triazolo[2,3-a]-[1,3,5]triazin-5-ylamino]ethyl)phenol) from human A(2B) adenosine receptors with a K(i) value of 470 +/- 2 nM and inhibited A(2B)-dependent cyclic AMP (cAMP) accumulation in human erythroleukemia (HEL) cells with a K(B) value of 625 +/- 71 nM. We found that IPDX was more selective than enprofylline toward human A(2B) receptors. It was 38-, 55-, and 82-fold more selective for human A(2B) than for human A(1) (K(i) value of 24 +/- 8 microM), human A(2A) (K(B) value of 36 +/- 8 microM), and human A(3) (K(i) value of 53 +/- 10 microM) adenosine receptors, respectively. IPDX inhibited NECA (5'-N-ethylcarboxamidoadenosine)-induced interleukin-8 secretion in human mast cells (HMC-1) with a potency close to that determined for A(2B)-mediated cAMP accumulation in HEL cells, thus confirming the role of A(2B) adenosine receptors in mediating human mast cell activation. Since adenosine triggers bronchoconstriction in asthmatic patients through human mast cell activation, IPDX may become a basis for the development of new antiasthmatic drugs with improved properties compared with those of enprofylline. Our data demonstrate that IPDX can be used as a tool to differentiate between A(2B) and other adenosine receptor-mediated responses.