The use of nonhuman primates (NHP) is invaluable for drug abuse research. The laboratory animals most closely related to humans are NHP. The phylogeny, anatomy, physiology, neurochemistry, and behavior of NHP are more similar to humans than other laboratory species. There is now an extensive body of literature documenting the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neuropharmacological similarities between NHP and humans and the differences between NHP and other laboratory species in dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, opioid, and gamma aminobutyric acid systems. Comprehensive studies comparing pharmacokinetics in humans, monkeys, dogs, and rats have shown that data in monkeys are the most predictive of human pharmacokinetic parameters. The long life span and extended adolescent period for NHP permits intensive, long-term investigations and the use of within-subject experimental designs similar to those used in human laboratory studies. Within-subject designs require fewer subjects than standard between-group designs and permit the careful evaluation of individual differences. NHP have been used extensively in drug abuse research for over 40 years and have provided useful information on the behavioral processes associated with drug abuse and addiction as well as drug abuse liability in humans. This review focuses on important species differences between rodents and NHP and on the value of NHP in bridging the gap between rodents and humans to enhance the ability to generalize preclinical findings to human drug abuse.