Research has documented tobacco-related health disparities by race and gender. Prior research, however, has not examined expectancies about the smoking cessation process (i.e., abstinence-related expectancies) as potential contributors to tobacco-related disparities in special populations. This cross-sectional study compared abstinence-related expectancies between American Indian (n = 87), African American (n = 151), and White (n = 185) smokers, and between women (n = 231) and men (n = 270) smokers. Abstinence-related expectancies also were examined as mediators of race and gender relationships with motivation to quit and abstinence self efficacy. Results indicated that American Indians and African Americans were less likely than Whites to expect withdrawal effects, and more likely to expect that quitting would be unproblematic. African Americans also were less likely than Whites to expect smoking cessation interventions to be effective. Compared with men, women were more likely to expect withdrawal effects and weight gain. These expectancy differences mediated race and gender relationships with motivation to quit and abstinence self-efficacy. Findings emphasize potential mechanisms underlying tobacco-related health disparities among American Indians, African Americans, and women and suggest a number of specific approaches for targeting tobacco dependence interventions to these populations.