The adenosine A1 G protein-coupled receptor (A1AR) is an important therapeutic target implicated in a wide range of cardiovascular and neuronal disorders. Although it is well established that the A1AR orthosteric site is located within the receptor's transmembrane (TM) bundle, prior studies have implicated extracellular loop 2 (ECL2) as having a significant role in contributing to orthosteric ligand affinity and signaling for various G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). We thus performed extensive alanine scanning mutagenesis of A1AR-ECL2 to explore the role of this domain on A1AR orthosteric ligand pharmacology. Using quantitative analytical approaches and molecular modeling, we identified ECL2 residues that interact either directly or indirectly with orthosteric agonists and antagonists. Discrete mutations proximal to a conserved ECL2-TM3 disulfide bond selectively affected orthosteric ligand affinity, whereas a cluster of five residues near the TM4-ECL2 juncture influenced orthosteric agonist efficacy. A combination of ligand docking, molecular dynamics simulations, and mutagenesis results suggested that the orthosteric agonist 5′-N-ethylcarboxamidoa-denosine binds transiently to an extracellular vestibule formed by ECL2 and the top of TM5 and TM7, prior to entry into the canonical TM bundle orthosteric site. Collectively, this study highlights a key role for ECL2 in A1AR orthosteric ligand binding and receptor activation.