The primary aim of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that the urge to smoke interferes directly with cognitive performance. Fifty-four smokers were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (a) ad lib, (b) deprived, or (c) nicotine patch. Participants rated their urge to smoke on continuous visual analogue scales. Cognitive performance was determined by measuring reaction times (RTs) on a Sternberg task. The deprived group reported a higher urge and had longer RTs than the ad lib group when exposed to smoking-related cues. However, the nicotine patch group reported a higher urge in the absence of longer RTs. The results indicated that nicotine deprivation affects cognitive performance and that the urge to smoke only partially mediated RTs.