Habitual tobacco smoking accelerates the metabolism of many drugs. With tobacco abstinence, it was expected that nicotine metabolism would be slower than when smoking. To test this hypothesis, the disposition kinetics of intravenous nicotine were studied in 20 healthy smokers while smoking, after abstaining from smoking for 1 week, and (in six subjects) when smoking again. Cardiovascular responses to nicotine were also measured. Unexpectedly, total and nonrenal clearance of nicotine increased by 36% and 39%, respectively, during abstinence. The increase in clearance after brief abstinence suggests that nicotine or its metabolites or another component of cigarette smoke inhibits nicotine metabolism in smokers. Cardiovascular responses to nicotine were greater after 1 week compared with overnight abstinence, consistent with loss of tolerance.