Carboxyamidotriazole (CAI) is a non-cytotoxic anti-tumor drug, which also shows considerable anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of animal models of inflammation. The exact target and mechanism of CAI were not clearly understood yet. In the present study, we demonstrate that CAI is a non-selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor, which provides comprehensive inhibitions of both adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate specific PDE (cAMP-PDE) and guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate specific PDE (cGMP-PDE) isolated from rat brain, mouse pulmonary tissue, primary mouse peritoneal macrophages, RAW264.7 cells, Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells and lymphocytic leukemia cells (L1210) with moderate potencies (IC50≈0.5–30 μM). The comprehensive elimination of PDE activities in living LLC cells by CAI results in accumulation of intracellular cAMP and cGMP, which can be visualized by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based cyclic nucleotide sensors. The stimulation by 30 μM CAI yielded ˜1.5-fold greater cGMP responses compared with 10 μM sildenafil citrate, whereas the influence of 30 μM CAI on cAMP levels was similar as that of 100 μM 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX). The non-selective inhibitory effect of CAI on cAMP-PDE and cGMP-PDE increases the likelihood for CAI to affect the balance between the levels of intracellular cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP, then a variety of cellular signaling pathways that regulate cell functions and even related disease processes. When examining the widely proven anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory activities of CAI, it is important to affirm its comprehensive inhibitory effect on PDEs, which makes it superior to some selective PDE inhibitors in a way.