Adenosine Deaminase (ADA) deficiency is an autosomal recessive variant of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) caused by systemic accumulation of ADA substrates. Neurological and behavioral abnormalities observed in ADA-SCID patients surviving after stem cell transplantation or gene therapy represent an unresolved enigma in the field. We found significant neurological and cognitive alterations in untreated ADA-SCID patients as well as in two groups of patients after short-and long-Term enzyme replacement therapy with PEG-ADA. These included motor dysfunction, EEG alterations, sensorineural hypoacusia, white matter and ventricular alterations in MRI as well as a low mental development index or IQ. Ada-deficient mice were significantly less active and showed anxiety-like behavior. Molecular and metabolic analyses showed that this phenotype coincides with metabolic alterations and aberrant adenosine receptor signaling. PEG-ADA treatment corrected metabolic adenosine-based alterations, but not cellular and signaling defects, indicating an intrinsic nature of the neurological and behavioral phenotype in ADA deficiency. © 2017 The Author(s).