Adenosine deaminase (ADA), which catalyzes the irreversible deamination of adenosine to inosine, is related to various human diseases such as tuberculous peritonitis and leukemia. Therefore, the method used to detect ADA activity and screen the effectiveness of various inhibitor candidates has important implications for the diagnosis treatment for various human diseases. A simple and rapid assay method for ADA, based on the enzymatic formation of a luminescent lanthanide complex, is proposed in this study. Inosine, an enzymatic product of ADA with stronger sensitization efficiency for Tb3+ than adenosine, produced a strong luminescence by forming an inosine-Tb3+ complex, and it enabled the direct monitoring of ADA activity in real-time. By introducing only Tb3+ to adenosine and ADA in the buffer, the enhancement of luminescence enabled the detection of a low concentration of ADA (detection limit 1.6 U/L). Moreover, this method could accurately determine the inhibition efficiency (IC50) of the known ADA inhibitor, erhythro-9-(2-hydroxy-3-nonyl)adenine (EHNA), and the inhibition of ADA could be confirmed by the naked eye. Considering its simplicity, this assay could be extended to the high-throughput screening of various ADA inhibitor candidates.