Cigarettes can be developed that heat rather than burn tobacco. Such products would be expected to have less "tar" and other combustion products than cigarettes that burn tobacco. With one product of this type, benzo(a)pyrene, N-nitrosamines, phenolic compounds, acetaldehyde, acrolein, hydrogen cyanide, and N-heterocyclic compounds have been reduced 10- to 100-fold compared to the Kentucky reference (1R4F) cigarette, a representative low-tar cigarette. The yields of nicotine and carbon monoxide from this new cigarette are less than the yields of 95% and 75%, respectively, of the cigarettes sold in the United States during 1988. Nicotine absorption from smoking this new cigarette is not significantly different from that of tobacco-burning cigarettes yielding equivalent levels of nicotine. The urine mutagenicity of smokers of new cigarettes is significantly less (P less than .05) than that of smokers of tobacco-burning cigarettes and is not significantly different (P greater than .10) from that of nonsmokers. We conclude that cigarettes which heat rather than burn tobacco can reduce the yield of tobacco combustion products. This simplification of smoke chemistry had no effect on nicotine absorption in smokers and resulted in a reduction of biological activity in smokers as measured by urine mutagenicity.