Cigarette smokers have a wide variety of "tar" and nicotine yields to choose from in the current market, ranging from 0.5 mg "tar" and less than 0.05 mg nicotine to 27 mg "tar" and 1.8 mg nicotine by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) method. To understand better the relationship between FTC nicotine yields and actual nicotine uptake in smokers, we have studied nicotine uptake in 33 smokers of self-selected products representing four "tar" groupings: 1 mg "tar" (1MG), ultra-low "tar" (ULT), full-flavor low "tar" (FFLT), and full flavor (FF) cigarettes. These cigarette categories had mean FTC nicotine yields of 0.14, 0.49, 0.67, and 1.13 mg/cigarette, respectively. The subjects smoked their usual brand of cigarette ad libitum and provided a 24-h urine sample for total nicotine uptake analysis over a period during which the number of cigarettes smoked was recorded. Nicotine uptake was determined by monitoring urinary nicotine and its metabolites, including the glucuronide conjugates. Daily nicotine uptake was 9.1 +/- 7.3 mg (range 1-21 mg) for 1MG, 19.2 +/- 10.0 mg (range 4-42 mg) for ULT, 21.8 +/- 9.4 mg (range 13-38 mg) for FFLT, and 37.1 +/- 14.4 mg (range 21-60 mg) for FF smokers. On a per cigarette basis, yields were 0.23 +/- 0.11, 0.56 +/- 0.23, 0.60 +/- 0.18, and 1.19 +/- 0.43 mg nicotine, respectively. Although individual variability was fairly large (CVs of 0.39-0.80), means for the different groups showed that lower FTC yield smokers not only absorb less nicotine per 24-h period, but also per cigarette smoked. These data suggest that nicotine uptake is a function of individual smoking behavior within product design limits. We conclude from these data that, while FTC yield cannot precisely predict nicotine uptake for an individual smoker, it is useful in predicting and comparing actual nicotine uptake by smokers who select cigarettes with a particular FTC yield.