Menthol is a common pharmaceutical, food and tobacco flavouring ingredient used for its minty characteristics and cooling effects. A 13-wk comparative nose-only smoke inhalation toxicity study was conducted using an American-style, cellulose acetate-filtered, non-menthol reference cigarette and a similarly blended test cigarette containing 5000 ppm synthetic l-menthol tobacco. Male and female Fischer 344 rats were exposed for 1 hr/day, 5 days/wk for 13 wk at target mainstream smoke particulate concentrations of 200, 600 or 1200 mg/m3, while control rats were exposed to filtered air. Internal dose biomarkers (blood carboxyhaemoglobin, serum nicotine and serum continine) indicated equivalent exposures were obtained for the two cigarettes. Effects typically noted in rats exposed to high levels of mainstream tobacco smoke were similar for both cigarette types and included reduced body weights (males slightly more affected than females), increased heart-to-body weight ratios and lung weights, and histopathological changes in the respiratory tract. Rats exposed to reference cigarette smoke displayed a dose-related increase in nasal discharge that was not observed in menthol smoke-exposed rats. All smoke-related effects diminished significantly during a 6-wk non-exposure recovery period. The results of this 13-wk smoke inhalation study indicated that the addition of 5000 ppm menthol to tobacco had no substantial effect on the character or extent of the biological responses normally associated with inhalation of mainstream cigarette smoke in rats.