This study characterized smoking habits and attitudes about quitting in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) patients, with attention to race and gender differences. Of 179 patients surveyed, 92% (n = 165) were current smokers. These patients reported smoking a mean of 24.8 cigarettes per day. Mean age at smoking initiation was 13.6 years with 53% starting at age 13 or younger. The mean Fagerstrom tolerance questionnaire (FTQ) score was 7.5. Blacks as compared to Whites smoked fewer cigarettes per day (21.6 versus 27.5), had lower expired CO levels (18.8 versus 21.6 ppm), but higher urinary cotinine levels (1812 versus 1419 ng/ml) and were more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes (95 versus 46%). Females scored higher than males on the FTQ measures of nicotine dependence (8.0 versus 7.2), and lower than males on a measure of quit smoking self-efficacy. Subjects in the sample as a whole were well aware of health risks of smoking, as indicated by high scores on health risk perception questions. Sixty-one percent (n = 110) of subjects planned to quit within the next 6 months, 57% were 'very interested' in an on-site quit smoking program and 80% expressed interest in using nicotine replacement products. Overall, these results indicate high rates of smoking in MMT patients, confirm within a drug abusing population prior findings of racial differences in smoking habits, and suggest that MMT patients are interested in quitting and in using nicotine replacement products. The data support feasibility of implementing smoking cessation treatments with this population in a setting that allows for convenient access to patients and close monitoring of progress.