Spanish scientific publications on tobacco use during the period 1970-1996 were studied, including all published work carried out in Spanish institutions indexed in IME or in MEDLINE and available on CD-ROM, using the search criteria fuma* and taba* in the first database, and tobacco and smoking in the second. A total of 405 papers were found by IME, published in Spanish journals, and another 194 in MEDLINE, published in foreign journals. In the latter database, a time-related increase in the number of papers was detected. Original articles accounted for 80.6% of the papers analyzed. The degree of collaboration between authors, research centres and institutions was 88.6%, 30.7% and 21.8%, respectively. The most productive Spanish communities were Catalonia and Madrid. The Spanish papers were published in 83 Spanish journals, of which 36 (43.4%) published just one paper, and in 124 foreign journals, of which 85 (68.5%) published a single paper. The average number of authors per paper was 4.02+/-2.46 in Spanish journals and 4.96+/-2.26 in foreign ones. The total number of authors was 1633, of whom 1162 (71.2%) appeared on a single paper. The contribution of Spanish scientific production concerning tobacco use, in international terms, has increased in recent years, but a higher level of cooperation between research centres and institutions is desirable.