The aim was to evaluate if recycling of failures from a smoking cessation study may be of value. The study comprised 126 smokers (50%) of 252 failures, from a double-blind smoking cessation trial with nicotine patch, who accepted recycling after 1 year. Subjects were allocated nicotine patches delivering 15, 20 or 25 mg of nicotine (over 16 hours) according to their base-line saliva cotinine concentrations in an open trial. The treatment period was 12 weeks followed by tapering over 6 weeks. The percentage of quitters after 3, 12, 26, and 52 weeks was 44, 20, 7 and 6%, respectively. After 26 weeks, all subjects had relapsed in the group previously treated with active nicotine patch compared with 12% abstainers in the previous placebo subjects. The sustained abstinence rate without slips after one year was 2%. Recycling does not seem to be of long-term clinical relevance in our set-up for subjects initially treated with nicotine, but of some value in subjects quitting without nicotine therapy initially.