Adsorptive separation of physically and chemically similar molecules and understanding the underlying host–guest interactions at the molecular level are of significant scientific and practical importance. Here we report the development of a novel calcium-based metal–organic framework, formulated as Ca3(Htcpp)2 (H4tcpp = 2,3,5,6-tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl)-pyrazine) featuring microporosity and high stability. This compound shows distinct adsorption behavior toward xylene isomers and is capable of separating them efficiently at an industrially relevant temperature. The selective adsorption is attributed to a synergetic thermodynamic and kinetic effect. The host–guest interactions were probed directly by single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis and the adsorption affinity was evaluated through computational molecular simulations.