1. Recently, we have demonstrated that cigarette smoke exposure proportionally increases plasma nicotine levels and arterial wave reflection to the aorta. However, the exact contribution of nicotine to the smoke-induced enhancement of wave reflection and the potential underlying mechanisms have not been fully investigated. 2. The present study was a prospective study in 15 healthy male non-smokers. All received a placebo and a 2 mg nicotine tablet, according to a randomized double-blind cross-over study design. Each subject underwent repeated measurements at baseline and for 1 h after nicotine or placebo intake, using carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) to assess arterial compliance. Concurrently, aortic pressures and the augmentation index were evaluated using applanation tonometry. 3. Plasma nicotine concentrations achieved 1 h after intake of the nicotine tablet reached comparable levels to those achieved after 1 h exposure to passive smoke (3.6 +/- 0.4 vs 3.2 +/- 0.4 ng/mL, respectively; P = 0.4). 4. Nicotine enhanced arterial wave reflection to the aorta, as assessed by the augmentation index corrected for heart rate (4.2 +/- 1.3 vs-0.7 +/- 0.8% with placebo; P = 0.001). In addition, a progressive increase in carotid-femoral PWV was noted after nicotine administration (0.3 +/- 0.1 vs-0.02 +/- 0.1 m/s with placebo; P = 0.04). This remained significant even after adjustment for changes in mean blood pressure and heart rate (P = 0.01). 5. Plasma nicotine concentrations comparable to those achieved after exposure to passive smoke enhance arterial wave reflection to the aorta. This is accompanied by an increase in carotid-femoral PWV, denoting a deterioration of arterial compliance by nicotine.