Nicotine is the major neuroactive compound of tobacco, which has, by itself, weak reinforcing properties. It is known that levels of the enzymes monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) and MAO-B are reduced in the platelets and brains of smokers and that substances, other than nicotine, present in tobacco smoke have MAO-inhibitory activities. Here, we report that inhibition of MAO dramatically and specifically increases the motivation to self-administer nicotine in rats. These effects were more prominent in rats selected for high responsiveness to novelty than in rats with low responsiveness to novelty. The results suggest that the inhibition of MAO activity by compounds present in tobacco smoke may combine with nicotine to produce the intense reinforcing properties of cigarette smoking that lead to addiction.