Purines are putative neurotransmitters which appear to be involved in regulating several vegetative functions. We examined the effect of purines and their antagonist, caffeine, on colonic temperature of rats. Adenosine injected ip lowered colonic temperature in a dose responsive manner at ambient room temperatures. Adenine and AMP also lowered body temperature whereas 7-methylinosine and inosine only slightly influenced colonic temperature. Caffeine (50 mg/kg) injected sc, increased colonic temperature and when injected within 60 seconds of adenosine, counteracted the hypothermic effect of adenosine (50 mg/kg). Low ambient temperature (4 degrees C) accentuated the thermoregulatory effects of adenosine. Thus adenosine appears to have a hypothermic effect on body temperature regulation when administered peripherally which can be reversed by caffeine.