Adenosine receptor agonists produce a wide variety of therapeutically useful pharmacologies. However, to date they have failed to undergo successful clinical development due to dose-limiting side effects. Adenosine kinase inhibitors (AKIs) represent an alternative strategy, since AKIs may raise local adenosine levels in a more site- and event-specific manner and thereby elicit the desired pharmacology with a greater therapeutic window. Starting with 5-iodotubercidin (IC50 = 0.026 microM) and 5'-amino-5'-deoxyadenosine (IC50 = 0.17 microM) as lead inhibitors of the isolated human AK, a variety of pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine nucleoside analogues were designed and prepared by coupling 5-substituted-4-chloropyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine bases with ribose analogues using the sodium salt-mediated glycosylation procedure. 5'-Amino-5'-deoxy analogues of 5-bromo- and 5-iodotubercidins were found to be the most potent AKIs reported to date (IC50S < 0.001 microM). Several potent AKIs were shown to exhibit anticonvulsant activity in the rat maximal electric shock (MES) induced seizure assay.