The development of therapeutic agonists for G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is hampered by the propensity of GPCRs to couple to multiple intracellular signalling pathways. This promiscuous coupling leads to numerous downstream cellular effects, some of which are therapeutically undesirable. This is especially the case for adenosine A receptors (ARs) whose clinical potential is undermined by the sedation and cardiorespiratory depression caused by conventional agonists. We have discovered that the AR-selective agonist, benzyloxy-cyclopentyladenosine (BnOCPA), is a potent and powerful analgesic but does not cause sedation, bradycardia, hypotension or respiratory depression. This unprecedented discrimination between native ARs arises from BnOCPA's unique and exquisitely selective activation of Gob among the six Gαi/o subtypes, and in the absence of β-arrestin recruitment. BnOCPA thus demonstrates a highly-specific Gα-selective activation of the native AR, sheds new light on GPCR signalling, and reveals new possibilities for the development of novel therapeutics based on the far-reaching concept of selective Gα agonism.