The reinforcing properties of a variety of drugs abused by humans have been investigated using the technique of intravenous self-administration in the rat. To examine the effect of nicotine dose on nicotine self-administration, Wistar rats were allowed to self-administer various doses of nicotine using a within-subjects Latin square design. An inverted U-shaped dose response curve was obtained, with the highest rates of responding at the 0.03 mg/kg/inf dose. With 1-h daily nicotine self-administration sessions, rats did not appear dependent on nicotine 24 h later, as indicated by the absence of somatic signs of withdrawal after subcutaneous injection of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist, mecamylamine (0.57 mg/kg). In another set of studies, pretreatment with subcutaneous mecamylamine or dihydro-beta-erythroidine, two nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonists, resulted in significant dose-dependent reductions in nicotine self-administration, at two nicotine doses (0.03 and 0.06 mg/kg/inf). These results indicate that nicotine is an effective reinforcer in Wistar rats under the present parameters, and that these reinforcing effects are mediated by activation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.