Capping of membrane Ig was studied in lymphocytes treated with agents that interfere with adenosine metabolism. Treatment of murine or human B cells with combinations of coformycin, an inhibitor of adenosine deaminase, homocysteine, and adenosine impaired Ig capping. Inhibition of capping was also produced by 3-deazaadenosine, a specific inhibitor of adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase. The inhibitors did not affect capping of the Thy-1 antigen or membrane sites reactive with anti-lymphocyte antibodies. Two patients with a hereditary deficiency in adenosine deaminase had impairment of Ig capping. Such an impairment was not found in lymphocytes of 2 other patients who had undergone successful bone marrow transplantation. It is known that the addition of a calcium ionophore results in activation of microfilament function and in disruption of Ig caps. The ionophore effect was not inhibited by the agents mentioned above. The authors' results suggest that the inhibition of Ig capping during aberrant adenosine metabolism may be caused by a methylation defect preceding the contractile event that produces membrane reorganization.