Abstract Rats repeatedly exposed to small doses of nicotine will demonstrate a significant augmentation of locomotor activity in response to a subsequent test dose of nicotine. A sensitization of brain tissue is hypothesized to account for this effect but Pavlovian conditioning might also be a major factor. Therefore the present study assessed the possible role of Pavlovian conditioning in this nicotine effect. Two experiments were conducted. In the first, subjects were administered either saline or nicotine in either their home cages or in activity test cages for five days. All subjects were then tested in the activity test cages on day six. In the second experiment rats were administered either nicotine or saline in the presence of a complex stimulus and later tested for response to nicotine alone and the complex stimulus alone. Results from these experiments indicate that Pavlovian conditioning does not play a major role in nicotine's effect on locomotor activity.