Urinary cotinine and puffing parameters were studied in 36 smoking students. Three smoking groups, formed according to the tar content of their preferred cigarette, were compared. Eighteen students had always smoked low-yield, 10 medium-yield and 8 were switchers from medium- to low-yield cigarettes. The subjects smoked their preferred brand (the first week), low-yield cigarettes (the second week) and medium-yield cigarettes (the third week). Day urine samples were collected for cotinine analysis during the two last days of the test weeks. Puffing indices were reported on the last day of every test week with a portable microcomputer assisted analyzer with flowhead cigarette holder. Urinary cotinine concentrations were rather constant within the groups, but lower among the low-yield cigarette smokers as compared to the switchers (p less than 0.05). Also the female smokers had lower cotinine concentrations than the male smokers (p less than 0.05). The compensatory behavior seen in every smoking group while they were smoking low-yield cigarettes was based on up-regulation in single puff volume, puff duration and total smoking time when compared to values with medium-yield cigarettes. The correlation between cotinine concentration and diurnal puff volume (1/day) was poor. It is concluded that the benefit possibly gained with low-yield cigarettes is not long lasting.