Because of recent resurgence in its consumption, the effects and health consequences of smokeless tobacco are of considerable public health interest. We studied the extent and time course of absorption of nicotine and cardiovascular effects of smokeless tobacco (oral snuff and chewing tobacco) and compared it with smoking cigarettes and chewing nicotine gum in 10 healthy volunteers. Maximum levels of nicotine were similar but, because of prolonged absorption, overall nicotine exposure was twice as large after single exposures to smokeless tobacco compared with cigarette smoking. All tobacco use increased heart rate and blood pressure, with a tendency toward a greater overall cardiovascular effect despite evidence of development of some tolerance to effects of nicotine with use of smokeless tobacco. Relatively low levels of nicotine and lesser cardiovascular responses were observed with use of nicotine gum. Adverse health consequences of smoking that are nicotine related would be expected to present a similar hazard with the use of smokeless tobacco.