The nicotine metabolite cotinine was administered to abstinent cigarette smokers to determine whether it has pharmacologic activity as assessed by various physiologic and subjective measurements. By means of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled counterbalanced-order design, subjects received cotinine base (30 mg) intravenously after 48 hours of abstinence from cigarette smoking. Serum cotinine concentrations increased to levels commonly achieved during daily cigarette smoking, whereas no change in serum nicotine concentration was observed. Cotinine compared with placebo produced subjective differences in self-reported ratings of restlessness, anxiety and tension, insomnia, sedation, and pleasantness. Cotinine had minimal effects on cardiovascular measurements. These findings indicate that cotinine is behaviorally active in the setting of cigarette abstinence at blood concentrations similar to those commonly achieved through daily cigarette smoking.