Adenosine in the extracellular space modulates stimulated glucose transport in striated muscle. In the heart and in adipocytes, adenosine potentiates insulin-stimulated glucose transport. There is controversy regarding the effect of adenosine in skeletal muscle, with reports of both an inhibitory effect and no effect, on insulin-stimulated glucose transport. We found that, in rat epitrochlearis and soleus muscles, removing adenosine with adenosine deaminase or blocking its action with the adenosine receptor blocker CPDPX markedly reduces the responsiveness of glucose transport to stimulation by 1) insulin alone, 2) contractions alone, and 3) insulin and contractions in combination. Measurement of the increase in GLUT4 at the cell surface in response to a maximally effective insulin stimulus in the epitrochlearis muscle, using the exofacial label ATB-[3H]BMPA, showed that adenosine deaminase treatment markedly reduces cell-surface GLUT4 labeling. The reduction in cell-surface GLUT4 labeling was similar in magnitude to the decrease in maximally insulin-stimulated glucose transport activity in adenosine deaminase-treated muscles. These results show that adenosine potentiates insulin- and contraction-stimulated glucose transport in skeletal muscle by enhancing the increase in GLUT4 at the cell surface and raise the possibility that decreased adenosine production or action could play a causative role in insulin resistance.