Abstract Objective The aim of this study is to examine the association between nicotine dependence and longitudinal exercise transitional shift patterns among young U.S. adult daily smokers. Methods Data from the 2003–2005 National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey was used, which is a longitudinal study over a two year period. Participants included 1168 US adult daily smokers (18–24years). Nicotine dependence was assessed using the modified Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence. Four transitional shift patterns were created based on meeting current exercise guidelines; stable inactive (inactive across time), activity relapsers (starts out active and then becomes inactive), activity adopters (inactive and then becomes active), and stable active (active across time). Results After adjustments, for every 1-unit increase in baseline nicotine dependence, participants had 16% (OR=1.16, p=0.01) greater odds of being in the stable inactive group compared to the stable active group. Conclusions Nicotine dependence appears to play an important role in shaping longitudinal exercise patterns among young U.S. adult smokers.