The present study was conducted to investigate the role of peripheral nicotinic receptors in mediating the rewarding effects of cigarette smoking. Twelve cigarette smokers rated cigarettes after intravenous infusion of the short-acting peripheral nicotinic receptor antagonist trimethaphan and after placebo (saline) infusions. Subjects were blinded to the infusion and cigarette conditions. Cigarette conditions included subjects' usual brand of cigarette, denicotinized tobacco cigarettes, and nicotine-injected cigarettes that had a tar delivery equal to that of the denicotinized cigarettes but with an enhanced nicotine delivery equal to that of subjects' usual brands. The latter cigarettes were rated as extremely harsh due to the high nicotine/tar ratio. Trimethaphan significantly attenuated the airway sensations associated with nicotine, and eliminated the difference in smoking satisfaction between the usual brand of cigarette and the other two cigarettes. These findings suggest that nicotinic receptors on peripheral nerve endings in the respiratory tract modulate smoking satisfaction and may be important in the maintenance of cigarette addiction.