Subcutaneous wound-tissue oxygen (PsqO2) tension in eight volunteers fell rapidly and significantly in response to smoking, and remained low for 30 to 50 minutes. Sham "smoking" had no effect. These data suggest that a typical "pack-per-day" smoker experiences tissue hypoxia during a significant portion of each day. The degree of hypoxia found in these subjects has been associated with poor wound healing in animal and human studies. The onset and duration of tissue hypoxia paralleled the well-established plasma pharmacokinetics of nicotine. This suggests that peripheral vasoconstriction, induced by the adrenergic effects of nicotine, may contribute to the observed decrease in PsqO2.