The study evaluated the current relationship between the trait of sensation seeking and smoking as possibly mediated by gender, cognitive risk appraisal and situational-relevant motivation. Subject were 1071 male and female undergraduates of whom 279 indicated they were past or current smokers and completed a Smoking Questionnaire (SQ). All subjects took the Sensation Seeking Scale. Sensation seeking is significantly (p less than .001) related to the proportion smoking in both men and women, although more women at the university are now smoking. Sensation seekers inhaled more of the smoke than lows, perhaps an indication of stronger nicotine need. Smoking was seen as highly risky, but the degree of estimated risk was not related to sensation seeking. Women reported smoking more in emotional and social situations; men reported smoking more in situations requiring close attention to a task. Sensation seekers reported smoking more than lows in social situations. Research is needed on specific cognitive factors mediating smoking and how they are related to personality and gender.