The relationship between nicotine intake and steady-state cotinine concentration was studied in a sample of 125 subjects who smoked their usual brands of cigarettes. Nicotine and tar yield of cigarettes was determined with a smoking machine, under standardized conditions. Blood was drawn about 8 hours after the last cigarette was smoked and serum cotinine was measured by high performance liquid chromatography. Cotinine levels ranged from 11 to 400 ng/ml, and nicotine daily intake ranged from 1 to 33 mg/day. Regression analysis and the correlation coefficient, r = 0.919, significant at p less than 0.0001, showed that steady-state cotinine level was linearly and directly related to daily available nicotine, with an increase in correlation coefficient directly related to the increase in tar and nicotine yield. From the findings we also conclude that smokers of low-tar cigarettes do not tend to compensate for lower yields of nicotine.