Male C57Bl/6 (C57) and ICR mice were exposed by nose-only inhalation to mainstream cigarette smoke (MS) from 2R4F reference cigarettes, at concentrations of 75, 250, and 600 microg of total particulate matter (TPM) per liter, for up to 6 mo. Respiratory-tract tissue (nose, larynx, and lung), blood, and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples were collected and analyzed at several time points. Blood samples were analyzed for biomarkers of exposure (COHb and nicotine). BALF was analyzed for biomarkers of cell injury, inflammation, oxidative stress, enzyme activity, and cytokines. Blood COHb and plasma nicotine concentrations increased in a dose-dependent manner, confirming smoke exposure. Mild emphysema was observed following 28 wk of exposure. Macrophage accumulation and inflammatory infiltrates were observed around the alveolar ducts and adjacent vasculature. There was an approximately 13% increase in mean linear intercept (Lm) only in ICR mice exposed to 600 microg/L TPM. There were no significant changes in biomarkers of oxidative stress secondary to smoke exposures; however, 8-isoprostane significantly increased following the 13-wk post-inhalation period. BALF macrophage and neutrophil counts were rapidly and consistently elevated, while lymphocyte counts gradually increased over time. MS-induced inflammatory responses observed in this study are comparable to changes reported in chronic smokers, supporting the role of chronic inflammation in the pathogenesis of emphysema. However, mild emphysema in minimal numbers of mice suggests that MS exposure concentration and/or duration in the current study were not sufficient to induce a definitive emphysema phenotype.