Changes in performance resulting from smoking were assessed in 48 male cigarette smokers who were classified both by daily consumption and by relative desire for smoking in situations inducive of high or low arousal. Each took part in four first cigarette of the day conditions involving a sham smoking control and three cigarettes differing in nicotine delivery. With increasing cigarette strength gains in letter cancellation speed on smoking increased although an inverted-U relationship was suggested; immediate memory accuracy progressively deteriorated once pre-smoking performance was controlled for. Smokers with greater desire to smoke in situations inducive of low arousal appeared to react more strongly to cigarettes and showed superior gain in cancellation speed on smoking. High cigarette consumption did not lead to between-day tolerance to cigarette effects.