Adenosine is a neuromodulator with both excitatory and inhibitory effects dependent in part upon preconditions; it can act as an algesic or an analgesic agent. Previously we found variations of pain intensity during constant infusion of adenosine. We therefore quantified pain intensity during constant infusion of adenosine at a rate of 140 microg/kg/min intravenously in healthy volunteers, placebo controlled, double blind, and the relation to hemodynamic, vasomotor and sudomotor responses of the sympathetic nervous system and to the role of peripheral beta-endorphin response. The perceived chest pain during adenosine infusion showed an oscillatory pattern. Painful periods of about 30s were interrupted by painfree periods, and pain was always preceded by an increase in vasomotor sympathetic activity and by increased sudomotor activity. Plasma beta-endorphin values were heterogenous but exhibited an increase during infusion.