Cigarette burn time (CBT), conventionally defined as the time a cigarette burns during smoking, can be affected by cigarette design and smoking behavior. A previous study showed a strong negative correlation between CBT and nicotine yield under machine smoking conditions. This study for the first time examined the relationship of CBT and exposure to nicotine and carbon monoxide in adult smokers in a controlled clinical study. 24h nicotine equivalents excretion (NE), carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) and CBT were measured in two groups of 20 adults smoking Marlboro Lights and 20 adults smoking Marlboro Ultra on two consecutive days. Approximately 20% of the total variability in CBT was attributed to cigarette brand, 34% to smokers and 1% to study day. The exposure index, defined as the number of cigarettes smoked per day divided by average daily CBT for each smoker, accounted for a large proportion of the total variability in NE (R(2)=0.79-0.91) and COHb (R(2)=0.85-0.90). We conclude that CBT has an important influence on levels of NE and COHb in adult smokers. CBT, along with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, can be used to estimate adult smokers' exposure to nicotine and carbon monoxide.