A specific objective of this 6-week crossover study was to determine how 21 regular smokers of middle tar cigarettes changed their smoking behaviour and uptake of smoke constituents, when switching to either lower tar cigarettes capable of delivering amounts of nicotine similar to a conventional middle tar cigarette (maintained nicotine product), or to conventional low tar/low nicotine cigarettes. Subjects visited the laboratory every 2 weeks for detailed assessment of their smoking behaviour. Weekly per capita consumption was similar for all three cigarettes. They were smoked with variable intensities (low tar greater than maintained nicotine greater than middle tar), the tendency being for larger puff volumes, faster puffing and increased puff duration with the low tar cigarettes. The maintained nicotine cigarette was preferred to the middle tar cigarette, although acceptability ratings of the three cigarettes only differed marginally. The nicotine absorbed from the maintained nicotine and middle tar cigarettes was similar and significantly greater than the levels achieved from the low tar cigarettes. Intake of carbon monoxide into the mouth and absorption into the blood stream was lower for the maintained nicotine cigarette than for the middle tar cigarette, with the low tar cigarette occupying an intermediate position. Derived estimates of tar intake suggested reduced intake of tar into the respiratory tract (around 25%) from the maintained nicotine product relative to the middle tar product. The possible advantages of switching to maintained nicotine cigarettes is discussed.