This article presents an overview of the proceedings from a symposium entitled “Is adolescence special? Possible age-related vulnerabilities to chronic alcohol or nicotine exposure,” organized by Susan Barron and Linda Spear and held at the 2004 Research Society on Alcoholism Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. This symposium, cosponsored by the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Study Group and the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society, focused on our current knowledge regarding the long-term consequences of ethanol and/or nicotine exposure during adolescence with the emphasis on data from rodent models. The support from these two societies represents the understanding by these research groups that adolescence represents a unique developmental stage for the effects of chronic drug exposure and also marks an age in which many risky behaviors including alcohol consumption and smoking typically begin. The speakers included (1) Aaron White, who presented data on the effects of adolescent ethanol exposure on subsequent motor or cognitive response to an ethanol challenge in adulthood; (2) Richard Bell, who presented data suggesting that genetic differences could play a role in adolescent vulnerability to ethanol; (3) Craig Slawecki, who presented data looking at the effects of chronic exposure to alcohol or nicotine on neurophysiologic and behavioral end points; and (4) Ed Levin, who presented data on acute and long-term consequences of adolescent nicotine exposure. Finally, Linda Spear provided some summary points and recommendations regarding unresolved issues and future directions.