Summary: Adenosine deaminase (ADA, EC is an enzyme of the purine metabolism which has been the object of considerable interest mainly because the congenital defect causes severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). In the last 10 years, ADA, which was considered to be cytosolic, has been found on the cell surface of many ceils and, therefore, it can be considered an ecto-enzyme. There is recent evidence about a specific role of ecto-ADA, which is different from bat of intracellular ADA. Apart from degrading extracellular adenosine (Ado) or 2′-deoxyadenosLne (dAdo), which are toxic for lymphocytes, ecto-ADA has an extraenzymatic function via its interaction with GD26. ADA/CD26 interaction results in co-stimulatory signals in T cells. This co-stimulation is blocked by HIV-1, thus evidencing a role for ecto-ADA in the pathophysiology of AIDS. The fact that, besides CD26, ADA can interact with different cell-surface proteins opens new perspectives in the research for a role of ecto-ADA in the function of the immune system and in the Interactions that take place between different cells in the development of the immune system. The most interesting aspect is the possible participation of the ecto-enzyme in cell-to-cell contacts during ontogenesis and maturation of immunocompetent cells.