Abstract The acute effect of smoking on the microcirculation of the skin of the thumb was investigated in healthy volunteers. Twenty-two were smokers and 10 were non-smokers. The flow was assessed by means of laser Doppler flowmetry. The smokers inhaled 2 cigarettes. During smoking of their first and second cigarette respectively, a mean decrease in laser Doppler flow of 23.8% and 29.0% was seen (p = 0.03; p = 0.01). Ten minutes after smoking this decrease was recovered by half. This experiment confirms that one should prohibit smoking of cigarettes pre- and postoperatively for optimal wound healing conditions.