In a placebo-controlled study, we investigated the influence of nicotine on late-day aviation performance in 15 non-smoking subjects. In a within-subjects design, subjects were tested on 2 days, each lasting 8 h and consisting of three 75-min simulator flights (late-afternoon practice, evening test, night test). Prior to each test, subjects received either nicotine polacrilex 2 mg or placebo gum. As expected, overall performance was significantly better after nicotine, compared to placebo (P < 0.01). Post-hoc analysis of individual flight tasks showed that nicotine improved scores on approach to landing, a task which appears to require sustained attention. We conclude that nicotine may improve late-day flight performance in non-smoking aviators.