Oral administration of the adenosine receptor (ADOR) antagonist, 7-methylxanthine (7-MX), reduces both form-deprivation and lens-induced myopia in mammalian animal models. We investigated whether topically instilled caffeine, another non-selective ADOR antagonist, retards vision-induced axial elongation in monkeys. Beginning at 24 days of age, a 1.4% caffeine solution was instilled in both eyes of 14 rhesus monkeys twice each day until the age of 135 days. Concurrent with the caffeine regimen, the monkeys were fitted with helmets that held either -3 D (-3D/pl caffeine, n = 8) or +3 D spectacle lenses (+3D/pl caffeine, n = 6) in front of their lens-treated eyes and zero-powered lenses in front of their fellow-control eyes. Refractive errors and ocular dimensions were measured at baseline and periodically throughout the lens-rearing period. Control data were obtained from 8 vehicle-treated animals also reared with monocular -3 D spectacles (-3D/pl vehicle). In addition, historical comparison data were available for otherwise untreated lens-reared controls (-3D/pl controls, n = 20; +3D/pl controls, n = 9) and 41 normal monkeys. The vehicle controls and the untreated lens-reared controls consistently developed compensating axial anisometropias (-3D/pl vehicle = -1.44 ± 1.04 D; -3D/pl controls = -1.85 ± 1.20 D; +3D/pl controls = +1.92 ± 0.56 D). The caffeine regime did not interfere with hyperopic compensation in response to +3 D of anisometropia (+1.93 ± 0.82 D), however, it reduced the likelihood that animals would compensate for -3 D of anisometropia (+0.58 ± 1.82 D). The caffeine regimen also promoted hyperopic shifts in both the lens-treated and fellow-control eyes; 26 of the 28 caffeine-treated eyes became more hyperopic than the median normal monkey (mean (±SD) relative hyperopia = +2.27 ± 1.65 D; range = +0.31 to +6.37 D). The effects of topical caffeine on refractive development, which were qualitatively similar to those produced by oral administration of 7-MX, indicate that ADOR antagonists have potential in treatment strategies for preventing and/or reducing myopia progression.